Recently there have been a lot of preservation issues in the news in Evanston and people may be wondering what role the Evanston History Center (EHC) plays when such issues arise. As our mission is to collect and preserve Evanston’s history, we are of course interested and concerned when that amazing history is lost or placed at risk. But as an organization, we do not get directly involved with or weigh in on local preservation debates.
There are a few reasons for this position. First, and probably most important, is that EHC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and this protected status could be jeopardized if we appear to lobby for political causes.
Second, not all preservation projects have the same importance or even public consensus on the best ways to preserve the past. Preservation issues can be complicated and we feel it is not our role to sort out those issues when government and community entities already have that role.
We do try, however, to support our partners and interested parties on all sides of the debates by providing historical documentation about Evanston buildings and other preservation matters from our publicly accessible archives and library. Our research room is open four days per week (TWTHS from 1-4 pm). Access is free for members and for non-members the fee is $5 (though if there is any problem with payment, we do waive the fee). We also charge for copies and for scanning services. These fees go directly to supporting the work of the history center. EHC is a privately funded organization that does not receive any city or government funding.
Finally, we endeavor daily to preserve the National Historic Landmark Charles Gates Dawes House and all of Evanston’s unique history in our archives and our collection. So really, everything we do at EHC is about preservation.
We’d love to see everyone in Evanston at the Dawes House. We welcome your curiosity about our city and its history – from the using our library and archives, to investigating the details of your house or apartment building, to community development, to understanding more about the life of Vice President Dawes and his Nobel Prize-winning activities. Please be sure to stop by and let us know how we can help you get involved and save Evanston’s history!
Eden Juron Pearlman, Executive Director
On behalf of the Evanston History Center Board of Directors