About Promontory Point Conservancy

Promontory Point Conservancy's mission is to protect and preserve Promontory Point Park, Burham Park, on Chicago's South Side, most especially its historic limestone, step-stone revetment and Alfred Caldwell Prairie School landscaping. The Conservancy is community group primarily  dedicated to protecting and preserving the historic features of Promontory Point Park for public enjoyment. Promontory Point proves a safe place for visitors every day of the year who swim, walk, meditate, read and rejuvenate in its unique natural surrounds; Point lovers come from all over the City to be there. The Conservancy cares for this unique sanctuary in the City, acts as the park advisory council and works to protect all its unique historic features.

 

The Point is the only stretch of the original WPA limestone revetment remaining along the City's eight-mile lakefront so the Conservancy advocates a preservation approach because:

  • the Point is on the National Register of Historic Places for its unique crib construction and historic limestone revetment and these historic features are protected under the National Historic Preservation Act and the Secretary of the Interior Standards

  • community-funded engineering design studies in 2002 and 2004 show that rehabilitation and repair are doable -- and even more cost effective than demolition and new construction -- under the Secretary of the Interior Standards for Preservation 

  • adaptation for ADA compliance offers creative opportunities for preserving the unique limestone revetment while meeting contemporary needs for easy, equitable access to the water

 

Promontory Point Conservancy grew out of the original 2001 Community Task Force for Promontory Point and the Save the Point community initiative. It was established in 2004 by the Illinois Secretary of State under the State's general Not For Profit Act for the purpose of protecting and preserving Promontory Point Park. The Conservancy fought to preserve the historic limestone, step-stone revetment from 2001-2006 and spearheaded the National Register listing for Promontory Point in 2017-2018. And now the Conservancy works with the community, elected officials and government agencies to Save the Point Again! The Conservancy is now filing for its 501(c)3, not-for-profit status. 

The Conservancy does NOT issue park permits for BBQs, weddings or other events. The Chicago Park District does: https://www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/parks-facilities/promontory-point

Here is the information on their website about grilling in parks:  https://www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/grilling

Here is information whether your event will require a permit: 

https://www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/about-us/faq/permits-faq#paragraph-16698

Members and officers of the Conservancy, all Point lovers: 
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Jack Spicer, Founder  and President

Jack worked as a landscape gardener for 43 years, following the styles of Jens Jensen and Alfred Caldwell, and planted most red bud trees seen in Hyde Park. He is a preservationist trained at the Art Institute School and sits on the board of Preservation Chicago and the Hyde Park Historical Society. For the last 30+ years, Jack has been a critical player saving many historically noteworthy buildings and structures from demolition, including the Till-Mobley Home and Promontory Point. Jack serves as co-president of Jackson Park Watch and served on the board of the Seminary Coop Bookstore. Jack was an original member of the Community Task Force for Promontory Point and a co-founder of Save the Point. Having survived a Jesuit education, Jack graduated from Antioch College. This Jack Spicer writes poetry too.

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Michael Scott, VP

Michael is a professor of mechanical and industrial engineering at the University of Illinois Chicago. His research interests are in formal, computable models for engineering design, exploring the shifting boundary between the portion of design that can be formally computed and the part of design that must be handled informally. Michael holds a PhD in mechanical engineering from the California Institute of Technology and an AB in Philosophy from Harvard. Michael grew up in Hyde Park; he and his family have been swimming at the Point for several generations. Michael was an original member of Save the Point. He is active organizing and supporting progressive causes on the South Side.

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Jorge Sanchez

Jorge is a partner at Lopez & Sanchez, attorneys. He has represented property owners in contract and land use litigation, helped union members enforce contractual rights, lead counsel in complex litigation, representing whistleblowers under the False Claims Act, litigating vote dilution claims under the Voting Rights Act, and much more. Jorge earned his J.D. from the University of California Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law and his B.A. from Brown University. Jorge has served on the boards of the Illinois ACLU and the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights and the Little Village Economic Development Corporation. Jorge is a nearly daily deep-water swimmer at the Point. Jorge was an original member of the Community Task Force for Promontory Point and a co-founder of Save the Point.

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Brigid Maniates, Secrty

Brigid is director of operations at the South Side Weekly and Hyde Park Herald. Prior, she worked as  Finance & HR Administrator at the Experimental Station and was the general manager for Qumbya Housing Cooperative and Lots in Common. She also consults with cooperatives, small businesses, and museums in the Chicago area. Brigid began her career developing inclusive and engaging public programs for the Field Museum of Natural History and the DuPage Children’s Museum.

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Don Lamb

Don is the Robert A. Millikan Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus, Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Enrico Fermi Institute and the College ; Associate Director, Flash Center for Computational Science, and Harris School of Public Policy , University of Chicago. Don has worked on major political campaigns and policy initiatives and has expertise in congressional appropriations and legislation. Don joined the Conservancy in 2005.

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Clinee Hedspeth

Clinee heads Hedspeth Art Consulting, specializing in appraising, preserving and documenting American fine art and ephermera with an emphasis on work created during the late 17th century through WWII. Clinee has curated at the DuSable Museum. Clinee sits on various boards and community organizations including the Hyde Park Historical Society. 

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Connie Spreen

Connie is executive director of the Experimental Station. She is an original member of the Community Task Force for Promontory Point and is a co-founder of Save the Point.

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Bruce Johnstone

Bruce is a general contractor. He is an original member of the Community Task Force for Promontory Point and a co-founder of Save the Point.

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Debra Hammond, treasurer

Debra works as a consultant to workers, small businesses and nonprofits on career and business stategies, and finance and operations. Prior she worked as a senior corporate executive on large, global IT projects, pioneering knowledge management and information management systems. She has managed budgets as large as $12m and a staff of 75. Debra was an early community supporter of Save the Point. Debra holds an AM and an MBA from the University of Chicago where she was a Lofgren Fellow, and studied Classical Languages at Carleton College. 

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George Rumsey

George is one of Hyde Park's most devoted community advocates with myriad contributions made over decades.

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Brenda Nelms

Brenda is co-founder and co-president of Jackson Park Watch. She has a long, successful career at the University of Chicago. 

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David Schalliol

David teaches Sociology and Sociological Theory at St Olaf College. He is interested in the relationship between community, social structure, and place. David is the author of Isolated Building Studies (UTAKATADO) and co-author, with Michael Carriere, of The City Creative. His sociological and photographic work has been supported by institutions including the Graham Foundation and the European Union He additionally exhibits widely, including in the Chicago Architectural Biennial, the Centre Régional de la Photographie Hauts-de-France, the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, and the Museum of Contemporary Photography. David was an early member of Save the Point. David earned his bachelor’s degree from Kenyon College and his master’s and doctoral degrees from The University of Chicago. 

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Helena Duncan

Helena was born and raised in California and has lived in Utah, New York, and southeast China. She now lives on the South Side of Chicago, where she is a communications director, freelance writer, copy editor, and community organizer. She also documents public meetings of government agencies for the civic journalism lab City Bureau. 

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Bronwyn Nichols Lodato

Browyn defies description. She founded and heads up Midway Plaissance Park Advisory Council. She sits on the board of Friends of the Parks, Chicago, for her advocacy of public spaces for people. She is completing her PhD dissertation at the University of Chicago. She and her family are frequently at the Point and are great Point lovers. 

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Rebecca Hall

Rebecca works at the Experimental Station and on tv filming sets. She is co-founder and leader of Hyde Park Together, a neighborhood community group working to keep the west side of Promontory Point free and open for all park visitors. She is an ace graphic artist for businesses, organizations and individuals. Rebecca first comprehended the special materiality of the movies in the summer of 2003, at a silent film series presented in Bucksport, Maine by Northeast Historic Film, where a scholar introducing one of the programs recounted the 1978 unearthing of hundreds of reels of nitrate film from a paved-over swimming pool in Dawson City, Yukon Territory. Since co-founding the Chicago Film Society in 2011, Rebecca has acted as house manager, designer (print and online), press liaison, and treasurer. She is a graduate of the University of Chicago.

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Asa Gelber

Asa grew up in Hyde Park - South Kenwood and from an early age was a swimmer and advocate for the Point. Now a third year law student at Indiana University, Asa plans to return to Chicago as a public defender. He has interned with the 7th Circuit Court in Chicago and the Federal Public Defender Office in Seattle. 

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Greg Lane, emeritus

Greg was an original member of the Community Task Force for Promontory Point and a co-founder of Save the Point. He was a key and important thinker, spokesperson and advocate in the original battle, 2000-2006, to Save the Point and went on to spearhead the Morgan Shoal community work that resulted in the Framework Plan.  

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Fred Blum, in memoriam

Fred was an original member of the Community Task Force for Promontory Point and Save the Point. Fred taught geology at Chicago State and worked to create the faculty union there. His good work and good words are missed as we rally again to Save the Point! Read Fred's statement about the beautiful geology of the Point's limestone blocks below. 

"When we say that the limestone character of Promontory Point's revetment must be preserved, we are referring to its beauty and all those aspects that contribute to this historic landscape. The beauty of the limestone is enhanced by aging, unlike even the best textured concrete. Concrete exhibits cracks and crumbles into unsightly masses as it weathers, whereas limestone exhibits textures of its ancient organic origins as it undergoes the natural impact of ice, waves and wind. When we marvel at the textural array of these blocks of limestone, we are also being affected by the fossilized character of rock which 400 million years ago was produced by the Silurian sea covering a vast area of the mid-continent of North America. During this 25 million year period, shell covered organisms and coral, along with the calcite mineral of the sea, formed the sediments that later became the limestone and dolomite bedrock underlying the Chicago and Indiana region."

"By looking from afar, the aesthetic superiority of limestone over concrete is obvious, while a closer observation of these limestone blocks reveals the organic nature of its beauty. A careful look at Promontory's limestone will reveal the fossil remnants contained in these stone blocks. It is this appreciation of the organic character of limestone and its predominance as Chicago's and Lake Michigan's bedrock which made it fit so well into Alfred Caldwell's later organic Prairie School design of Promontory Point. Even before the 1920's when the limestone revetment was being constructed, many of the finer buildings and houses in Chicago were using local or regional limestone or dolomite for its beauty and accessibility. This limestone wall is an ideal link between Alfred Caldwell's organic Prairie School landscape and Chicago's lakefront wilderness area, Lake Michigan."

-- Fred Blum, circa 2003