Preservation expert at Pullman


David Schultz

​​​Expert offers new take on preservation Dec. 10 at Pullman historic site 

CHICAGO – The Pullman State Historic Site welcomes noted historic preservation expert Vincent L. Michael on Dec. 10 to discuss his call for a new focus on preserving culture and heritage as well as buildings and monuments.

The free event takes place 3-5 p.m. at the site’s Hotel Florence, 11111 S. Forrestville Ave., Chicago. Make your reservation at 

Michael is a senior director for the Global Heritage Fund and a former trustee for the National Trust for Historic Preservation. He supervised the master's program in historic preservation at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago from 1996 to 2010 and also worked for Landmarks Illinois.

Michael believes “preservation is about the future, not the past. It is a potent and democratic planning tool for all communities.” But he argues an emphasis on preserving buildings leads to overlooking spots that are key to social movements or significant to vulnerable populations.

“Traditional historic preservation approaches can leave important stories untold, rituals forgotten and significant sites unprotected,” Michael has said.

The Pullman State Historic Site presents Michael in conjunction with the Pullman National Monument Preservation Society.

The Pullman neighborhood, including the part operated by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, was declared a national monument last year.

The neighborhood began in 1880 as company-owned housing for workers at the Pullman Palace Car Company, the first planned community of its kind.  The neighborhood included markets, a library, churches, and entertainment to create a model community for the workers.  

When demand for railroad cars slumped, the company laid off workers and cut wages but did not reduce rent on homes in Pullman. That triggered an 1894 strike that led to a national boycott of trains with Pullman cars. 

Pullman also contributed to African-American history. The porters employed by the company helped spur development of an African-American middle class. But the porters also faced tremendous discrimination, leading them to form the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, which became a force for civil rights in America.

The site is operated by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. IHPA protects the state’s historic resources, which contribute to education, culture and the economy. IHPA sites include ancient burial mounds, forts and buildings erected by settlers, and homes connected to famous Illinoisans.

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