Members of Illinois General Assembly revive Historic Preservation Caucus to protect state’s heritage

SPRINGFIELD – More than 60 members of the Illinois General Assembly have joined forces to revive the Historic Preservation Caucus, a bipartisan group dedicated to protecting the state’s historic sites, buildings and artifacts.

The caucus will promote legislation and budgets that ensure the taxpayers of Illinois get the most from their state’s unique heritage. Leading the caucus, which last met in 2010, are Sen. Pamela Althoff, R-McHenry, Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, Rep. Rich Brauer, R-Springfield, and Rep. Jerry Costello II, D-Smithton.

“Our history in Illinois is rich, and our sites and structures should be preserved and appreciated,” Althoff said. “The kind of economic development that stems from our historical sites and structures is valuable. The caucus recognizes and will work to promote that.”

Manar added: “Illinois’ historic sites are vital to our state’s heritage and connect our citizens to the generations that came before them. It is important that we not only preserve these sites, but actively promote our rich heritage.”

The revival of the caucus was announced during National Preservation Month, when groups around the country remind the public of the economic, educational and entertainment value of historic sites. This year’s theme for National Preservation Month is “See! Save! Celebrate!”

Last year, some 2.2 million people visited historic sites operated by the state of Illinois. Others visited different spots with historic connections – cruising along Route 66 perhaps or enjoying towns in the Illinois Main Street program.

“It’s wonderful to see so many members of the General Assembly bringing their energy and ideas to the task of protecting history,” said Amy Martin, director of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. “I’m confident they’ll make the caucus an important voice on behalf of all Illinoisans.”

The state’s heritage includes major buildings, like the Old State Capitol or Ulysses S. Grant’s home. But it also includes entire neighborhoods, from the industrial Pullman Historic District in Chicago to clusters of beautiful homes in communities across the state. And business districts in many cities and towns remain healthy because they emphasize their roots and architecture.
The objectives of the caucus are to strengthen and preserve Illinois historic structures, resources and sites; help educate and motivate the public on the importance of maintaining our heritage; and make Illinois a more attractive place for people to visit, live and work.

Brauer added: “Abraham Lincoln, of course, is the biggest name in Illinois history, but our story goes far beyond one man or one part of the state.”

“This caucus represents an opportunity to continue raising awareness of our state’s history and the economic impact historic sites and structures can have if they’re supported properly,” Costello said.

Landmarks Illinois will join the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency in providing advice and expertise as legislators study the best ways to protect and promote history.

“We look forward to collaborating with the Historic Preservation Caucus to identify policy initiatives and incentives that will enhance the social and financial value of these irreplaceable assets in our communities,” said Bonnie McDonald, president of Landmarks Illinois.

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