Tuesday, January 11, 2005
Group Changes Name to
Maxwell Street Foundation.
To better reflect its changing mission, the Maxwell Street Historic Preservation Coalition has changed its name to the Maxwell Street Foundation. Coinciding with the new name are various organizational and governance changes.
The Maxwell Street Foundation is dedicated to preserving, interpreting, and presenting the multicultural history of the old Maxwell Street Market and neighborhood in Chicago. The Maxwell Street Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation.
The Foundation's origins go back to 1994 when the Maxwell Street Market was moved from its historic location. At that time, many neighborhood residents, merchants, and other interested individuals came together to advocate alternatives to the removal of residents, businesses, institutions and infrastructure by the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), which intended to clear the area for campus expansion and other development. A web site was established and other campaigns undertaken that garnered international support for the cause.
In 1997, the group which had been operating informally since 1994 was organized and incorporated as a not-for-profit Illinois corporation named the Maxwell Street Historic Preservation Coalition. The organization prepared and presented various proposals to UIC and City of Chicago officials, and prepared and submitted two nomination applications to the National Register of Historic Places in an effort to create a Maxwell Street Historic District. Although these specific efforts failed, the City of Chicago ultimately responded to community pressure and negotiated an agreement with UIC and its developers to preserve eight buildings and one fašade for adaptive re-use, and also to dismantle and relocate twelve facades taken from other buildings in the neighborhood. The new development, including the promised building preservation and fašade relocation, all located near the intersection of Maxwell Street and Halsted Street, is now nearly complete. Although this outcome has been by no means ideal, a small part of the real Maxwell Street has been preserved.
With the final removal of residents and businesses from the area, and demolition of buildings, the group turned its focus to preserving the history of Maxwell Street. They co-produced with filmmaker Shuli Eshel a film entitled "Maxwell Street: A Living Memory," about the children and grandchildren of the Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe who lived and worked on Maxwell Street. The film was partially funded by a grant from the Illinois Humanities Council. On behalf of the group, two members produced in association with the Chicago Historical Society a book of photographs entitled Chicago's Maxwell Street. The group also assisted in the production of a book of oral histories entitled Jewish Maxwell Street Stories. Both books are published by Arcadia Publishing.
In 2004, they co-produced the Maxwell Street Blues Bus Production," a mobile theatrical production inspired by Ira Berkow's 1970s interviews with Maxwell Street residents and merchants. Live blues music was also part of these performances, which used as a backdrop the actual "blues bus" from which blues recordings were sold at the Maxwell Street Market for many years. This project was funded by grants from the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, Illinois Humanities Council, and Illinois Arts Council.
The Maxwell Street Foundation owns a substantial collection of Maxwell Street artifacts. Several artifacts from that collection were exhibited in the 2004 Museum of Science and Industry exhibition, "Sweet Home Chicago: Big City Blues 1946-1966," produced by Seattle's Experience Music Project Museum. The group also has developed a Maxwell Street curriculum and blues music instruction program designed for elementary school students. In addition to artifacts, the Foundation's collection includes many documents, photographs and recordings.
These are just a few of the programs about Maxwell Street that have been presented at various public and private venues. In addition to these activities, the Foundation continues to maintain a popular web site at maxwellstreet.org.
The new Maxwell Street Foundation intends to continue these and other activities designed to increase knowledge and awareness of the history and culture of Chicago's unique Maxwell Street neighborhood. To further its activities, the Foundation seeks funding from foundations and individuals.
TO REACH US VIA EMAIL:
TO REACH US VIA THE USPS:
Maxwell Street Foundation
P.O. Box 6435
Evanston, IL 60204
TO LEAVE A COMMENT IN OUR GUESTBOOK:
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