Our most frequently asked questions

What is the difference between local landmarking and listing in the National Register of Historic Places?

The two most common ways to achieve landmark designation for an historic property or district is at the local level (through a municipality or county that has an historic preservation ordinance) or at the federal level (through the National Register of Historic Places program of the National Park Service). Landmark designation at the federal level is administered by the state historic preservation office; in Illinois, that agency is called the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency (IHPA). To find out if your local level of government has an historic preservation ordinance, contact the local department of planning office or see if it is a Certified Local Government (CLG), which is a local government with an ordinance that has been certified by the IHPA.

To inquire if your historic property is eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places, follow the preliminary evaluation process as instructed on the website of IHPA.

Is Landmarks Illinois a state agency? Do you receive government funding?

Landmarks Illinois is a private, not-for-profit organization. Our annual revenue is comprised of donations from individuals, foundations and corporations (95%) and earned income (5%). For Illinois’ state-sponsored preservation agency, please visit http://www.illinois.gov/ihpa/Pages/default.aspx.

Is Landmarks Illinois the organization that landmarks buildings?

Landmarks Illinois does not landmark properties, but does hold preservation easements that protect historic properties through an owner’s donation of that preservation easement. A preservation easement is a legal agreement between a property owner and a qualified easement-holding organization that protects a significant historic or cultural resource in perpetuity. For more information, click here.

How do I find out if my house is a landmark?

To learn if your property has any existing landmark designation at the local or federal level, inquire with your local planning department. For residents of Chicago, the city’s zoning map indicates all historic designations under the zoning tab.

Will landmarking affect my property values?

How landmark designation, at the local or national level, will affect one’s property values will always depend on local factors. Every local historic preservation ordinance is different in the level of protection provided through landmark designation and local incentives that may be provided as a result of that designation. Generally, National Register designation will have no impact on property values due to the fact it is only honorific and National Register-listed properties can be demolished. Regulatory review of a threatened National Register-listed property only occurs by the IHPA if federal or state funds or permits is involved. Many studies have shown that local landmark designation, particularly of an historic district, can stabilize or increase property values due to the desirability of living in a neighborhood where owners are highly invested in their historic properties. See links to two studies addressing property values: The Impact of Historic Districts on Property Values and Measuring the Economics of Preservation (see page 4).

How can I be more involved in historic preservation in my community?

Inquire with your local department of planning office if there are positions available on the local historic preservation commission or volunteer opportunities to help with the Commission’s educational outreach. Many communities have local historic preservation or “friends” organizations, historical societies or civic groups that are focused on the identification and protection of historic places and sound community planning. Inquire with local planning department staff or the Historic Preservation Commission chair regarding opportunities to be involved. You may also reach out to Landmarks Illinois’ statewide Regional Advisors to inquire about ways to be involved. Finally, join Landmarks Illinois to learn about preservation efforts in your area and the entire state.

Where can I find grants/funding for my project? What grants or incentives are available to rehab my historic building? Do you have funding to fix my building?

Landmarks Illinois has two grant programs available to not-for-profit organizations or governmental bodies for their preservation projects: Preservation Heritage Fund and Donnelley Preservation Fund Grants.

Click here for a list of grants and incentives available through other organizations.

What is a preservation easement?

A preservation easement is a legal agreement between a property owner and a qualified easement-holding organization that protects a significant historic or cultural resource in perpetuity. Preservation easements are recognized as the strongest and only perpetual protection available for historic properties. Landmarks Illinois protects more than 550 historic properties through preservation easements. For more information, click here.

Is building rehabilitation more expensive than new construction?

Rehabilitation is often comparable in cost or less expensive than new construction, especially if the new construction includes demolition costs. In addition to individual costs for a project, building rehabilitation and reuse has been documented to catalyze local economic development and improve job creation, property values, heritage tourism and neighborhood revitalization. For more information, please see the report Measuring the Economic Impacts of Preservation: Recent Findings.

Should I replace my old windows?

The windows on many historic buildings are an important aspect of the architectural character of those buildings. Their design, craftsmanship or other qualities may make them worthy of preservation. The California State Parks Office of Historic Preservation provides the most thorough evaluation of the historic window topic including studies and research.

Beyond the historic integrity of a building, energy efficiency is a concern when it comes to windows. The National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Preservation Green Lab published a report called “Evaluating the Energy Performance of Window Retrofit and Replacement,” which provides data on the topic.

For those considering restoring their windows, the National Park Service Preservation Brief: The Repair of Historic Wooden Windows is a good resource.

If you are looking for a professional to restore your windows or custom build an appropriate replacement or storm window, check our Illinois Restoration Resources.

How do I find someone to work on my historic building?

Landmarks Illinois’ Restoration Resources provides property owners and design professionals with access to professional services, products, craftspeople and other experts related to the maintenance, restoration and rehabilitation of older structures.

Please note that this directory is not intended to be comprehensive or an endorsement – it is for your convenience. Omission from the list does not imply that a provider is unqualified. Inclusion in the list does not verify the provider’s qualifications, experience or ability. Landmarks Illinois recommends that you request and check references before hiring any service provider.

I’m a young professional interested in historic preservation and Landmarks Illinois’ mission. How can I get involved?

Become a member of Landmarks Illinois’ Skyline Council, Landmarks Illinois’ committee of young professionals. It consists of more than 30 emerging leaders with an interest in historic preservation, the built environment and healthy communities. Through service, social engagement and advocacy, Skyline Council members promote Landmarks Illinois’ mission to empower individuals to save places that are important to them while strengthening their networks. For more information, call Events Manager Tiffanie Williams at (312) 922-1742.

Why should I become a member of Landmarks Illinois?

You should become a member of Landmarks Illinois if you believe in the beauty, functionality and value preservation and adaptive reuse brings to the places that anchor our neighborhoods, making them authentic and unique.

For over 45 years, Landmarks Illinois has worked to help communities and neighborhoods throughout Illinois preserve and protect their architecture and historic places. We fulfill this important mission through advocacy, education and public awareness programs, legislative initiatives, technical assistance and grants. We also work directly with local preservation groups, state agencies, historic commissions and owners of historic buildings to find solutions to historic preservation issues.

Without a strong statewide advocate for historic preservation, our unique and irreplaceable heritage would be squandered. Our work enhances communities, empowers citizens and catalyses local economic development statewide.

How can I support Landmarks Illinois?

Landmarks Illinois is 95 percent donor-and-member-funded – a compliment we treasure. Given myriad relevant issues of the day, donors face tough decisions when it comes to investing their dollars in non-profit organizations. Thanks to the many historic preservation impact studies and our track record, we can confidently assure donors that an investment in Landmarks Illinois returns dividends for individuals and communities.

You can support Landmarks Illinois by:

For information on other ways to support Landmarks Illinois, please contact Amy Ege, Director of Development and Engagement, at EgeA@lpci.org or (312) 922-1742 X221.

I receive Landmarks Illinois emails, news blasts, and frequent invitations to events. Am I a member of Landmarks Illinois?

Members are only those individuals, companies and organizations which have chosen to become members of Landmarks Illinois through a membership contribution and receive the corresponding benefits. Individual memberships begin at $35. Professional memberships are also available for companies and firms. Landmarks Illinois could not accomplish its work without the support of all our members, donors and volunteers. Join us today!

Where is Landmarks Illinois located and where are your projects?

Landmarks Illinois’ main office is located in Chicago and a field office is located in Springfield. Click here for staff contact information.

Every year, Landmarks Illinois engages an increasing number of communities throughout Illinois in preservation-related efforts. This map illustrates the more than 100 places where Landmarks Illinois has made site visits, given assistance, listed properties on its Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois list, awarded grants and presented our Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Awards in the past fiscal year (July 1, 2015-June 30, 2016).

Support our advocacy

Be a voice for the future of our communities by supporting Landmarks Illinois. Our work enhances communities, empowers citizens, promotes local economic development and offers environmentally sound solutions.

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