Grantee Partner Spotlight: Landmarks Illinois
The Springfield Dudley Hotel was demolished. (Photo courtesy of the Lincoln Library)
By MARK HALLETT, DIRECTOR OF GRANTS PROGRAMS
Read Time 4 minutes
January 3, 2023
Founded in 1971, Landmarks Illinois’ mission is to preserve, protect, and promote architectural and historic resources in Illinois through advocacy and education. In 2022, they received a Multiplier* grant to support their Green Book Sites project is a partnership with Route History, Inc. to preserve the history of the 250 Illinois sites included in the “Negro Motorist Green Book,” using oral histories and an interactive online map.
Get to know the organization in our Q&A with Frank Butterfield.
*Multiplier grants are no longer offered by Illinois Humanities. Get to know our General Operating grants, which now offer comprehensive support for nonprofit organizations.
A Q&A with Landmarks Illinois
Featuring Frank Butterfield, Chief Operating Officer.
Q: How do you see the arts, humanities, and culture as being essential?
Frank Butterfield: The humanities are essential as they engage the full human experience. They provide a forum for people to explore both our shared experiences and what makes us unique. My paternal grandparents moved to Chicago from Ireland as young adults. In my youth, I took Irish dancing lessons. I vividly remember performing on St. Patrick’s Day, wearing a kilt in the halls of a reused, historic school as it filled with traditional music and dancing. The arts are what brought my heritage to life, from stories of tragedy and resilience to hope and optimism.
Q: What is the most important thing people should know about your work?
Frank Butterfield: Landmarks Illinois is the only historic preservation organization working statewide to help people save places in their communities. We provide advocacy assistance, small grant funding, educational services and other key services that get preservation efforts off the ground – all free of charge and with a small team of employees. We are also a dedicated, long-term preservation partner for the people of Illinois, working with local advocates for years or decades on projects, like the 25-year effort to save The Old Post Office in Chicago, the nearly 20-year effort to reuse the Kendall County Sheriff’s Resident & Jail in Yorkville, and the nearly 10-year effort to rehabilitate the former Hotel Belleville.
Q: How did you arrive at doing what you do?
Frank Butterfield: I took a winding path to historic preservation. My college studies were in chemistry and music. While I thought chemistry was my future, I used my spare moments to follow my passion of exploring the historic spaces of cities where I lived and visited. Eventually, I took night classes in art history and architectural history, which only expanded my passion for saving, exploring, and enjoying historic places. Somewhere in that journey, I discovered historic preservation and was hooked. After graduate school at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, I worked for the National Trust for Historic Preservation before joining Landmarks Illinois in 2013.
Q: Who makes your work possible?
Frank Butterfield: Our work is made possible by members, donors, volunteers, and partners throughout Illinois. This broad-based support includes participation in an advocacy campaign, becoming a member, or attending an event, becoming a grant recipient, as well as foundation support, corporate sponsorships, sponsorship of Landmarks Illinois, foundation support, corporate sponsors, and our volunteer Skyline Council, committee members, Emeritus Board and Board of Directors. The scope of impact greatly exceeds the number of our staff because of the generosity of our supporters.
SUGGESTED VIEWINGS & READINGS BY FRANK BUTTERFIELD:
- “Why I turned Chicago’s abandoned homes into art,” A TED Talk by Amanda Williams. Amanda Williams is one of the Landmarks Illinois influencers at Preservation Forward, our spring fundraising event on March 2, 2023.
- Preservation News: The Landmarks Illinois
- The Relevancy Project blog post series, which addresses much-needed changes in historic preservation:
About Landmarks Illinois
Founded in 1971, Landmarks Illinois’ mission is to preserve, protect, and promote architectural and historic resources in Illinois through advocacy and education. When a place that is important to people is threatened, Landmarks Illinois is there to help. Through a wide range of programs, they give people the inspiration and the tools they need to save the important places in their lives. They are an on-the-ground advocate, offering technical assistance, practical resources, small grants, education and endless support— all completely free of charge.
About the Grantee Partner Spotlight Series
Illinois Humanities highlights the work of our Grants partners through our monthly Grantee Partner Spotlight. It shines a light on our grantee partners' work and allows readers to get to know them better through a Q&A with members of the organization.