What Everybody’s Talking About…



April 23, 2016



Emily Nielsen, the champion of the Shrine of Christ the King, with Hopie and Annie Hambleton.

Emily Nielsen, the champion of the Shrine of Christ the King, with Hopie and Annie Hambleton.

When we last reported on Emily Nielsen in our “Women to Watch” column, the fate of her campaign, #SaveTheShrine, was a cliffhanger. The Shrine of Christ the King at 64th and Woodlawn was marked for immediate demolition. Emily and her team of 20, backed by professional preservationists, raced the clock to raise $1 million and obtain 2,250 names on an online petition. We are happy to report that Emily has just returned from a National Trust Council meeting in Richmond, Virginia, where she spoke on her successful campaign and was able to announce that restoration is beginning.  Preservation success stories are rarities and few beat Emily’s.

“We are delighted that the Archdiocese was able to come up with such an innovative solution to save the Shrine. It is now owned by the Institute of Christ the King, the international order of priests who have been serving the Shrine community since 2004. This is the only instance I know of where a diocese has divested itself of a historic church building, while transferring ownership to an entity which will continue to operate it as a place of Catholic worship. This is really a win-win-win for everyone: the faithful, the neighborhood, architecture lovers, and the Archdiocese.”

Among those attending the National Trust Council meeting – Emily was the youngest person to ever address the group – were Emily’s parents, Laurie and Chris Nielsen, and Joe Gromacki, who has worked closely with Emily on the campaign.

“It was wonderful to be able to participate in the whole weekend, as well. Richmond is a beautiful city and, of course, the National Trust visits wonderful places. I was especially inspired by the visit to St. John’s Church, where Patrick Henry gave his “Give me liberty or give me death” speech. This church has an active friends group and, naturally, I am looking for strong organizations for historic churches as models and inspiration for our Save the Shrine movement.”

Emily’s next goal is #ShelterTheShrine, which is focused on protection from the elements of a Chicago winter.

“This first phase of restoration includes a new roof and new windows. Its estimated cost, including a contingency fund, is $2.5 million, with $650,000 from Preservation Chicago’s donors and $350,000 by the Institute of Christ the King. The $1 million will keep work going through the summer but beyond that, we need to fundraise. Thanks to the sponsorship of Goodcity, donations to Save the Shrine are now tax-deductible. Preservation Chicago, Landmarks Illinois, and the Chicago Field Office of the National Trust have been critical to our success. Neighborhood groups in Hyde Park, Woodlawn, and Kenwood have also joined the effort. It is really a victory for local groups as well. That kind of local solidarity really shows how much the Shrine means to so many people and broadens its base of support so significantly.”

Saving the Shrine defines Emily’s days and the preservation world has no finer spokesperson.

For more information visit: www.shrinelandmark.org

Recent Planned Parenthood honoree, Peggy Carr.

Recent Planned Parenthood honoree, Peggy Carr.

Peggy Carr’s almost 80 years of involvement with Planned Parenthood of Chicago as a board member and volunteer were celebrated this week by the 400 guests attending the organization’s “Generation Celebration” at the Sheraton Hotel. “Saturday Night Live” writer, and Second City alumna, Katie Rich toasted Peggy from the podium in her role as Master of Ceremonies and applause filled the room as Peggy greeted guests. The “Margaret Wiley Carr Bright Horizons” award was presented by Planned Parenthood President and CEO Carole Brite. 

Earlier in the day, Peggy had attended a walk-through of the Van Gogh Bedrooms record-breaking exhibit at the Art Institute, led by its curator Gloria Groom and sponsored by the Old Masters Society. As usual, the most cogent questions in the room were Peggy’s.

The façade of the Chicago History Museum, with banners noting exactly what it does so well: sharing Chicago stories.

The façade of the Chicago History Museum, with banners noting exactly what it does so well: sharing Chicago stories.

No one place better captures the magic of Chicago’s diverse neighborhoods better than The Chicago Historical Society, and the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences just announced it feels the same way. Our History Museum will receive one of 10 National Medals, the nation’s highest honor given to libraries for service to their communities and efforts in reaching those that are underserved.

A community member will join President Gary Johnson to receive the award in Washington, D.C.

The awards committee cited exhibits such as My Chinatown, Benito Juarez and the Making of Modern Mexico, Out in Chicago, and Shalom Chicago, as well as the Day of Remembrance for Japanese internment, which the Museum hosted.