In November of 2004, by a vote of its Board of Directors, The Maxwell Street Historic Preservation Coalition became the Maxwell Street Foundation.
The Maxwell Street Foundation is dedicated to preserving, interpreting, and presenting the multicultural history of the old Maxwell Street Market and neighborhood in Chicago.
In 1994, individuals concerned about the continuance of the Maxwell Street Market and the preservation of its neighborhood organized the Maxwell Street Market Colloquium at the University of Illinois at Chicago. When the historic Market was relocated that year to Canal Street from the site it had occupied since 1912, these individuals publicly advocated alternatives to the removal of the remaining Maxwell Street residents, businesses, and buildings as the area was cleared for the University’s South Campus expansion. The Maxwell Street Museum Project, a not-for-profit Illinois corporation, was organized by these individuals in 1996 to preserve physical remnants of the marketplace, and was reorganized in 1998 as the Maxwell Street Historic Preservation Coalition with 501(c)(3) status to sustain the built fabric of the street and support the preservation of its history.
Members submitted two National Register of Historic Places nomination applications for a historic district on Maxwell Street, but the nominations were defeated at the national level. Nonetheless, international support for the cause was garnered through a website established at maxwellstreet.org, and the organization’s efforts slowed the demolition of buildings and promoted a negotiated compromise between the city, university, and developers.
Ultimately, an agreement between them preserved eight buildings and one façade for adaptive re-use and introduced the dismantling and reinstallation of twelve historic facades in its redevelopment plan. With the final removal of businesses and buildings in 2001, the organization turned its focus to the history of Maxwell Street and to the production of materials that interpret the history for a variety of audiences.
In 2002, members premiered a film they co-produced with filmmaker Shuli Eshel about the descendants of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe who lived and / or worked on Maxwell Street, entitled Maxwell Street: A Living Memory. Members also prepared a photographic book in association with the Chicago Historical Society, entitled Chicago’s Maxwell Street, and subsequently assisted with a book of oral histories, entitled Jewish Maxwell Street Stories. In 2003, an advisory council was established to guide them in their mission. In 2004 they launched the Maxwell Street Blues Bus Production that featured their original theatrical piece “And This Was Free” with the authentic Maxwell Street Blues Bus that sold Blues recordings at the original Market.
Members oversee a collection of historic Maxwell Street artifacts from which a loan was made to the Museum of Science and Industry’s temporary exhibition, Sweet Home Chicago: Big City Blues 1946–1966, produced by Seattle’s Experience Music Project Museum. Members also developed a preliminary Maxwell Street curriculum and Blues music instruction program designed for duplication in whole or in part for schools.
At the close of 2004, a name change to the Maxwell Street Foundation was established. In 2005, advisory council members coordinated the design of the Maxwell Street Collection limited edition portfolio, for sale through the Foundation. In 2007 through 2009, members presented a reproduction of the portfolio in a storefront display at the celebrated intersection of Maxwell Street and Halsted. In 2006, the Foundation recognized the 1856 mansion built by Dr. Philip Maxwell - for whom Maxwell Street is named, and one of incorporated Chicago’s first residents who became an Illinois state representative - and have co-presented events at the historic mansion.
The Maxwell Street Foundation became an annual sponsor of the Chicago Blues Festival in 2008, now organized by the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, at which they feature the Maxwell Street connection to Chicago Blues. The Foundation promotes the New Maxwell Street Market, relocated to Canal Street in 2004 and operating on Sundays on DesPlaines Street since 2007. In 2010, the Foundation brought the Maxwell Street Blues Bus back to the New Maxwell Street Market as a special Labor Day Sunday event. In 2011, the Foundation continues as an all-volunteer organization that promotes the history of Maxwell Street through special projects, publications, walking tours, lectures, teacher workshops, and collaborative events. The Foundation explores the feasibility of a museum dedicated to the history of Maxwell Street as a Chicago portal for immigrants, migrants, entrepreneurs, and the Chicago Blues, and in recognition of its historic footprint incorporated in 1837 Chicago.
The mission of the Maxwell Street Foundation is to preserve and interpret the history of Chicago’s Maxwell Street for future generations.
The Maxwell Street Foundation is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation and contributions are tax deductible.
Maxwell Street Foundation Corporate Officers and Directors
Lori Grove, President
Alan Teller, Vice President
Janelle Walker, Treasurer
Laura Kamedulski, Recording Secretary
Peter Nicholas Pero, Programs Secretary
Directors: Ken Benson, Michael Boruch, Alan Mammoser, Bonni McKeown, Robert Packer, Peter Nicholas Pero, Elliot Zashin
Honorary Director: Seymour Persky
Maxwell Street Foundation Advisory Council Members.
Honorary Members: Ruth Abram, Ira Berkow.
Members: Marvin Altur, Steve Balkin, Judith Stefanovic-Christopoulos, Dr. Irving Cutler, Barry Dolins, Morris Fred, Mary Gerace, Ed Hirschland, Alan Johnson, Larry Lund, Gene Mackevich, Vincent L. Michael, Marvin E. Newman, Marc PoKempner, Phyllis Rabineau, Norman Schwartz, Larry Booker Strong, Dr. Martin C. Tangora, Morris J. Vogel.
(Updated October, 2013)
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Maxwell Street Foundation
P.O. Box 4307
Chicago, IL 60680-4307
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