Preservation Circle

The Organization

Preservation Chicago is the only organization exclusively focused on Chicago’s grassroots historic preservation efforts. An advocacy nonprofit, Preservation Chicago is committed to strengthening the vibrancy of Chicago’s economy and quality of life through the successful protection, revitalization and adaptive reuse of Chicago’s unique, irreplaceable and historically significant architecture which define our neighborhoods and urban spaces. Through advocacy, outreach, education, and strategic partnerships, we seek to influence those decision makers in a position to affect preservation-sensitive change.

Its professional staff and board members serve from a place of passion, with great enthusiasm and dedication to the cause of defending Chicago against the forces of neglect, ignorance and architectural banality and a preserving Chicago’s world-class architectural heritage. Preservation Chicago is a unique organization, celebrated by friends and feared by foes, but universally described by all as “energetic,” “resourceful,” “tenacious” and “effective.”

Our Legacy to Protect and Defend

As the birthplace of the skyscraper and all of modern architecture, Chicago is universally regarded as one of the most significant architectural cities on the globe. This extraordinary legacy earns Chicago an honored place among the great world cities.

The Challenge to Historic Preservation

Those same forces of commerce and innovation that once combined in Chicago to thrust architecture into the modern age are now eroding our built legacy as the commerce persists but without the innovation.

Over 1,000 building demolitions occurred in Chicago in 2014. Many of these buildings date from Chicago’s Golden Age of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including over 25 highly significant orange-rated and red-rated buildings. Many have been replaced by vacant lots or generic disposable highway exit architecture.

Chicago’s historic buildings have defined our urban fabric for generations and are irreplaceable once lost. With their passing, the opportunity for a struggling neighborhood to regain the vibrancy of its past and for a thriving neighborhood to maintain the very character that allowed it to thrive slips slowly but decisively further away. Through preservation, a community’s core can be protected and defining components of Chicago’s essence remain intact.

Preservation Chicago’s Strategic Response

Preservation Chicago’s immediate goals are to expand programing, outreach, and proactive policy-making capabilities in order to change the context of preservation in Chicago. Preservation Chicago has recently increased its staff, thereby allowing the organization to expand its capacity and productivity. Its staff are governed and supported by a dynamic board of directors, essential for Preservation Chicago to successfully address the many complex and varied preservation challenges. The long-term goal of Preservation Chicago is to increasingly shift from reactive to proactive advocacy. Outreach, education, and policy change will help Chicagoans better appreciate, recognize and value our rich architectural heritage and shift the conversation to one more conducive for preservation. Educating the next generation of Chicago decision-makers about preservation and its benefits is essential for the long-term vibrancy of our city.

Benefits of Supporting Preservation Chicago

Preservation Chicago’s ability to operate is due in large part to the generous support of its individual donors, corporations and foundations that believe in fighting for Chicago’s historically significant built environment. Supporting Preservation Chicago offers many benefits.

For additional information, please contact

Ward Miller

Executive Director