Dear Friend of Historic Preservation:
The 2016 Despres Preservation Award, given for outstanding achievement in preserving Hyde Park Township’s architectural heritage, will be given to Theaster Gates and the Rebuild Foundation for the pioneering restoration of various buildings in the Greater Grand Crossing neighborhood.
The Despres Award will be presented at the Hyde Park Historical Society’s annual dinner on February 27, 2016 at the Quadrangle Club, 1155 E. 57th St.
The Rebuild Foundation projects are aimed at revitalizing the community by “re-imagining” vacant buildings and neglected artifacts. The goal is to provide unique cultural spaces and programming that are community-driven. This broad approaches extends the definition of standard preservation projects, embracing what Gates terms “ethical re-development.”
The most recent project is the widely acclaimed adaptive reuse of a 1923 bank at 6760 Stony Island Ave. The neoclassical structure, now called the Stony Island Arts Bank, was bought from the city in 2013 for $1. The restoration makes extensive use of original materials. The building now holds such rescued artifacts as the archives of Johnson Publishing (Ebony and Jet magazines) and an architectural lantern slide collection from the University of Chicago. It was a focal point of the recent Chicago Architecture Biennial.
Other projects cited are the Dorchester Art + Housing Collaborative at 1456 E. 70th Street, built in 2010 in partnership with Brinshore Development; the Archive House and Listening House, both at 6918 S. Dorchester; and the Black Cinema House at 7200 S. Kimbark. Gates is also involved with several other restoration projects in the Washington Park neighborhood (the Arts Incubator; Currency Exchange café; and Bing, a fine arts bookstore). Theaster Gates is a visual arts professor and director of arts and public life at the University of Chicago.
The Despres Awards honor long-time Fifth Ward alderman Leon Despres and his wife, Marian Despres, both noted preservationists.
To reserve a seat for the Hyde Park Historical Society 2016 annual dinner on February 27, mail a check for $80 ($90 for payments received after February 22) payable to the Hyde Park Historical Society, to Janice A. Knox, Hyde Park Historical Society, 5529 S. Lake Park Ave., Chicago, IL 60637. Credit card payments may be made online at hydeparkhistory.org. For more information, send an e-mail to Janice A. Knox at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 773-317-1520.