The Village of River Forest and the River Forest Historic Preservation Commission is currently conducting a community-wide architectural and historical survey to determine which buildings, structures and sites within the Village have special historic, cultural and architectural significance. The Village has prepared the following fact sheet to answer any questions regarding the survey, what it is and how it will be conducted.
What is an architectural and historical survey?
Historic architectural surveys are undertaken by communities to locate, identify, evaluate and inventory properties for their potential significance, both architecturally and historically, within a defined project area. Surveys are also used to identify potential historic districts. Hundreds of communities across the country have initiated survey programs identify potentially significant properties and districts and to accomplish other community historic preservation goals.
Why is River Forest undertaking a survey?
Informal surveys of River Forest’s historic resources exist. However, no comprehensive, village-wide survey has been undertaken that documents the number of significant historic buildings and potential landmark buildings and districts. The survey will enable the Village to gain a better understanding of where significant historic buildings are located and to plan more effectively for their long-term preservation.
Who is undertaking the survey?
The Village’s Historic Preservation Commission, comprised of seven volunteer commissioners appointed by the Village Board President, is undertaking and managing the survey project, along with assistance by the Lakota Group, a professional preservation-planning firm based in Chicago. The Lakota Group was contracted to conduct the survey by the Commission and the Village through a competitive selection process.
When will the survey be completed?
The survey’s final report, which will include an inventory of significant properties in River Forest, is scheduled to be completed in late November 2012. The on-site field survey will be conducted over a period of three months between July and September. For a complete survey project schedule, view the project website at www.thelakotagroup.com/riverforest
. The complete survey database will also be posted to the website for public access upon project completion.
How will the survey be conducted?
The survey will be performed using two different approaches — a reconnaissance level or basic level survey that will be conducted village-wide, and a more intensive level survey requiring additional fieldwork and documentation for a group of potentially significant properties. The reconnaissance survey seeks to obtain general information about a property, including its location, type and architectural style. An intensive survey involves more extensive research and documentation, both off-site and during fieldwork, to determine if a property is historically and architecturally significant. Generally, properties over 50 years will be subject to a reconnaissance survey while approximately 230 properties identified from previous surveys efforts will be subject to an intensive level survey. Surveyors will conduct the survey from the street and sidewalk only.
How will a building be determined to be significant?
The determination of whether a property is historically and architecturally significant is based on factual documentation and a balanced and objective approach using the National Register Evaluation Criteria. Each building being surveyed will be evaluated for their significance according to Evaluation Criteria established for the National Register of Historic Places, which is this nation’s list of important buildings, districts, structures and sites worthy of preservation. The National Register Criteria measures significance according to whether a building or district embodies distinctive characteristics of a building type, period, or method of construction; or that of a master architect or builder, or that represents a significant and distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction. Properties may also be considered significant under the Criteria if they are associated with important historic events or people that have contributed to understanding River Forest’s past. The National Park Service maintains the National Register. For more information on the National Register of Historic Places, view their website at www.nps.gov/nr/index.htm
Does the survey mean that my property becomes a landmark if it’s significant?
No, the results of a survey are for planning and information gathering purposes only and will not result in a landmark designation of a building. However, the survey will determine which buildings are architecturally and historically significant and may be eligible for listing, both individually and as part of a district, in the National Register of Historic Places Listing a property in the National Register is a separate process and is usually the responsibility of the property owner. There are currently three properties in River Forest that have been listed individually within the National Register. Listing in the National Register places no restrictions private property.
What does it mean to be located within an eligible historic district?
Currently, River Forest has one National Register Historic District that was established in 1977 and includes properties between Harlem and the Des Plaines River and Lake Street and Chicago Avenue. Historic districts are collections of buildings and features that are unified by a shared history or architecture. A district is also made of “contributors” and “non‐contributors” based on the association to that shared history or architecture. As noted above, a survey is not a formal designation process, but it will identify those areas that are “eligible” for a district designation or an expansion of the existing National Register District.
Will the survey impact my property’s taxes or its value?
No. As far as property taxes are concerned, neither the valuation of property by the Assessor’s Office nor the tax rate is affected by a survey. However, there are specific benefits available under Federal and State economic incentive programs to owners that choose to have their surveyed buildings listed in the National Register at some point. Again, listing is an entirely separate process. Additional information about these incentive programs is available at: www.thelakotagroup.com/riverforest
, to provide background information on the survey process and schedule as well as access to survey reports and documents when they are completed. For additional information, contact the Village of River Forest
or The Lakota Group