Did you know that the brownie was invented at the Palmer House? Bertha Honore Palmer wanted a new dessert treat in 1893 and they came up with the brownie. That was one of the fun facts we learned at the Legendary Landmarks Gala last night at the Palmer House; Landmarks Illinois’ annual black tie fundraiser. I am Secretary and Issues Committee Chair for the organization, which this year honored Susan and Lew Manilow, Michael Kutza and Richard Driehaus. Driehaus is a name well known in preservation circles for his sponsorship of Preservation Awards that Landmarks Illinois gives each year. The Manilows are incredible arts supporters (and good dancers, I am happy to say) and actually way ahead of the curve on preservation – Lew Manilow envisioned the North Loop Theatre District way back in 1980 when he sponsored a plan to save the Woods, Harris and Selwyn Theaters. This was WAY ahead of the curve in terms of preservation.
The Woods was lost in 1989 but he saved the other two (one facade; one whole) when the Goodman Theatre went in a decade later. Kutza of course founded the Chicago International Film Festival and Bill Kurtis and Donna La Pietra presented a motion picture intro to Kutza’s amazing and very photogenic accomplishments. Driehaus was the final recipient and delivered the coup de grace by surprising nearly everyone with the promise of a $1 million gift over the next four years to preserve and illuminate county courthouses throughout the State of Illinois. He announced this (a HUGE surprise) as an elevation of the Macoupin County Courthouse hovered above him.
I had a nice chat at dinner with a nice couple from Kenilworth who were very ashamed of the misinformation campaign that led to voting down the National Register designation (reported on here in November). The National Register can’t stop you from tearing down your house. It is really that simple but a lot of time and money was spent convincing people otherwise. David Bahlman came back to town as Master of Ceremonies; Tony Jones did a FANTASTIC introduction of Richard Driehaus and the food was good. Oh, and one other thing. No matter how hard I try, I can’t keep up with Rolf Achilles. I knew that 10 years ago but somehow I keep forgetting.
Speaking of 10 years ago, here is construction photo of Harris facade and Selwyn behind.
Tags: Landmarks Illinois