Hyde Park Chamber seeks votes to help acquire national grant

The Hyde Park Historical Society cable car building, 5529 S. Lake Park Ave. – Photo courtesy of the Hyde Park Historical Society

Staff Writer

The Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce in collaboration with the Hyde Park Historical Society (HPHS) is one of 25 nominees for the Partners in Preservation: Main Streets Initiative national grant. The grant is awarded to help preserve and restore historical landmarks within communities.

Main Streets has recognized 25 semi-finalist historic sites in the U.S. and the Hyde Park neighborhood is the only semi-finalist in Illinois.

According to Wallace Goode, executive director of the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce, if the Hyde Park Chamber and Historical Society team is chosen, the grant will be used to support the restoration of the Hyde Park Cable Car Building, 5529 S. Lake Park Ave.

The Chicago City Street Railway constructed the Cable Car Building in 1893 or 1894, and it is believed to be the only building surviving in Chicago that was a part of the cable car system.

The Hyde Park cable line ran along 55th Street, and it served for a short time as a terminal rest stop for the trolley system. From 1898 to 1952 Turney Keller and members of his family operated the building as a restaurant. Later, it was known as Steve’s Lunch under the management of Steve Megales, who was a Greek immigrant.

Currently, the Cable Car Building is used by the HPHS for meeting, programs, and exhibits.

In April, the HPHS began reaching out to the Hyde Park community to raise funds for its five-year plan to restore the historic Cable Car Building. According to Michal Safar, president of the HPHS, upgrades needed include a new furnace, masonry restoration, and window and door refurbishment. Some of the work has been done or is in process.

The funding will preserve the Cable Car Building, which is one of the few structures still standing with connections to the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893, and allow continued access to the museum and meeting space.

“In true Chicago fashion, we need people to get out and vote,” Goode said. “Vote early and vote often.”

According to Goode, participants are permitted to vote up to five times in a day from Monday, Sept. 25. until Tuesday, Oct. 31.

To vote online visit http://voteyourmainstreet.org/Hyde-Park.

If they received the grant, the chamber and historical society will be a part of the “Partners in Preservation: Main Streets Initiative,” created by American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation to help engage the public in preserving and increasing awareness of America’s historic places and their role in sustaining local communities.

The neighborhoods with the most votes will win preservation funding grants provided by American Express. Grant recipients will be announced on Thursday, Nov. 2.