Hyde Park residents have been fighting to save the limestone staired revetment wall at Promontory Point for more than 20 years.
Now they’re angling to have the matter settled, if not necessarily once and for all, then at least for the foreseeable future.
The Promontory Point Conservancy, in conjunction with Preservation Chicago, has submitted a preliminary landmark recommendation report to the Commission on Chicago Landmarks. If the Point is ultimately declared a Chicago Landmark, it would be afforded greater protection from potential demolition or alteration.
The conservancy is requesting to have the matter heard at the commission’s next meeting, scheduled for Dec. 8, which would kick start the landmark process. An agenda for that meeting has yet to be posted.
“We are advocating heavily to get the process initiated,” said Diego Morales, a member of the conservancy. “We are optimistic.”
Though the Point is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this is the first time its champions have attempted to gain Chicago Landmark status, said Morales.
The conservancy has built a broad coalition of support for the Point’s landmark push, he said, from government officials — allies include local Ald. Leslie Hairston (who’s announced her retirement) and U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly — to the leaders of historic preservation and open space organizations.
What’s the point?
Renowned landscape architect Alfred Caldwell was instrumental in designing Promontory Point, which juts into the lake at roughly 55th Street. Its limestone revetment dates back to the 1930s, built as part of the New Deal’s Works Progress Administration program.
When the Army Corps of Engineers began shoring up revetments elsewhere along Chicago’s lakefront in the early 2000s, the limestone rocks were ripped out and replaced with concrete. The Point was spared at the time thanks to vocal opposition from people who objected to what they saw as the loss of history, charm and aesthetics.
But in 2021, after lakefront beaches and properties took a beating from high water levels and powerful storms, the Army Corps received funding to conduct a comprehensive study of Chicago’s shoreline, with a specific focus on the south end.
Anticipating that the study’s results might favor concrete revetments at the Point, Preservation Chicago placed Promontory Point on its annual “7 Most Endangered” list for 2022.