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Stony Island Arts Bank given Prestigious Preservation Award

The National Trust for Historic Preservation presented a Driehaus Preservation Award to the Stony Island Arts Bank in Chicago. The project is one of 11 award winners that were honored by the National Trust during its 2016 PastForward National Preservation Conference in Houston, TX.

In 2013, artist Theaster Gates convinced Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to sell him the Stony Island Trust & Savings Bank, days before its scheduled demolition, in exchange for a commitment to stabilize the building. The Rebuild Foundation—Gates’ nonprofit dedicated to activating underused spaces with arts, culture, and community oriented programming—then set about restoring the building after 30 years of vacancy and converting it into a gallery, library, and arts center.

Designed by William Gibbons Uffendell, the bank originally opened in 1923 and operated for nearly six decades, anchoring the then-bustling Stony Island Avenue on Chicago’s South Side. Its restoration has been one of the city’s most dynamic preservation projects: repairing the crumbling façade and stabilizing and reconstructing the interior down to the flooded basement vault.

The space reopened in October 2015 as the Stony Island Arts Bank, which houses art exhibitions and cultural programs. The Arts Bank has hosted more than 13,000 visitors since reopening and has established itself as a neighborhood anchor once more.

“While each is unique, this year’s outstanding Driehaus Award winners all reflect the importance of protecting our nation’s cultural heritage,” said Stephanie Meeks, president and CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “From a prominent Venetian Gothic building along Chicago’s Michigan Avenue to a 19th century whaling ship in Connecticut, this year’s Driehaus Award winners demonstrate how saving places bolsters local economies and helps preserve the unique fabric of communities throughout the country.”

Co-recipients of the award are: Mercedes Zavala; Nootan Bharani, AIA; Lori Berko, Esq.; Mejay Gula; Tadd Cowen; Rebuild Foundation; MacRostie Historic Advisors; Fitzgerald Associates Architects; RTM Engineering; Stearn Joglekar Ltd. Structural Engineering; Rockey Structures; and Chicago Community Loan Fund.

The National Preservation Awards are bestowed on distinguished individuals, nonprofit organizations,   public agencies and corporations whose skill and determination have given new meaning to their communities through preservation of our architectural and cultural heritage. These efforts include citizen attempts to save and maintain important landmarks; companies and craftsmen whose work restores the richness of the past; the vision of public officials who support preservation projects and legislation in their communities; and educators and journalists who help Americans understand the value of preservation. The winners of the National Preservation Awards will appear online at


Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, Chicago, Ill.

Charles W. Morgan whale ship, Mystic, Conn.

Stony Island Arts Bank, Chicago, Ill.


Louise du Pont Crowninshield Award: Paula Wallace, Savannah, Ga.

Louise du Pont Crowninshield Award: W. Knox Mellon, Carmel, Calif.

The American Express Aspire Award: Recognizing Emerging Leaders in Historic Preservation: Glenn Wilson, Flint, Mich.

Peter H. Brink Award for Individual Achievement in Historic Preservation: John Shuck, Richmond, Va.

President’s Award for National Leadership in Historic Preservation: Judge Ed Emmett, Houston, Texas.

John H. Chafee Award for Outstanding Achievement in Public Policy: Texas Historical Commission, Austin, Texas.

The Trustees’ Award for Organizational Excellence: Utah Heritage Foundation, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Trustees Emeritus Award for Excellence in the Stewardship of Historic Sites: Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia, Pa.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded nonprofit organization, works to save America’s historic places.


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