Urbana Wins Statewide Award For Historic Preservation

On October 12, 2012, the Illinois Association of Historic Preservation Commissions awarded the City of Urbana’s Historic Preservation Commission its 2012 Preservation Award. The award recognizes the City of Urbana’s "significant contributions to historic preservation in the state of Illinois" over the past two years. Rebecca Bird, a Planner with the City of Urbana who was instrumental in carrying out these activities, accepted this award in Blue Island, Illinois at IAHPC’s annual member meeting. The award is based on the following achievements and programs for 2011-2012:

  • In Lincolns Shadow Podcast Tour. Created In Lincoln’s Shadow, a walking “pastcast” tour of Abraham Lincoln related historic sites in Urbana. These videos are also provided online.
  • 100-Most Historic Buildings in Urbana. The Historic Preservation Commission adopted a list of the 100-most historic buildings with public input and lots of discussion about significance. Funded with an Illinois Historic Preservation Agency (IHPA) grant. Then with a follow up IHPA grant, created an online guide to all 100 properties with architectural and historical descriptions of each.
  • Modern Urbana Homes Tour, May 5, 2012. Worked cooperatively with the University of Illinois’ architecture program to organize a Modern Urbana Homes Tour which had more than 400 participants.
  • Historic Resource Survey Digitization. Working cooperatively with the Champaign County Archives and the Illinois Secretary of State’s office, most of the 1,300+ historic resource survey forms completed for Urbana properties have been digitized and made available online through the Illinois Digital Archives.
  • Urbana Historic Resources Database. With assistance of an IHPA grant, the City of Urbana has created a database to be used by City staff and officials as a tool for managing the community’s historic resources and guiding public decisions which might affect these resources. The database includes historic resource survey information on all 1,300+ surveyed properties, local landmark and National Register designations, inclusion on the City’s demolition delay list, and 100-most important historic resources. The database includes verified and standardized addresses and PINs for eventual links with the City’s GIS system.
  • Urbana Landmark Hotel. Oversaw the City’s designation of the Urbana Landmark Hotel (formerly the Urbana Lincoln Hotel) as a local historic landmark, a key downtown property in terms of both economic development and historic preservation. The hotel is now being rehabilitated as a hotel with a new owner/investor who relocated from California. Designation as a local landmark was a City condition for developer acceptance of City TIF funds for rehabilitation.
  • Halberstadt House Landmark. Successfully designated the endangered Halberstadt House which was to be demolished by a church for a parking lot. The City Council delayed action on a pending landmark application to give time for the Church to market the property, and City staff found a new buyer who has completed rehabilitation as a residential duplex. The City purchased an adjacent lot from the Church and constructed a public parking lot which Church members and others can use for free on evenings and weekends.
  • Ezekial Boyden Home Landmark. Oversaw local landmark designation of the only surviving pre-Civil War building in Urbana directly connected with Abraham Lincoln (Lincoln slept here literally!), as recently identified through extensive research by Stewart Berlocher.

Congratulations should be extended to not only the Urbana Historic Preservation Commission and Rebecca Bird, but also the Urbana City Council and Mayor, and concerned Urbana citizens who stepped forward at critical times to help make this work possible.

In 2012, PACA presented its Preservation Advocacy Award to the City of Urbana.

The Illinois Association of Historic Preservation Commissions is a not-for-profit association of more than 60 municipalities and counties in Illinois with public historic preservation programs. IAHPC is dedicated to the success of local historic preservation commissions in Illinois. More information can be found at http://www.iahpc.org/.