DOWNERS GROVE – The Friends of the Edwards House was formed three years ago to combat plans to demolish the historically significant home on Maple Avenue.
The organization’s year-long grassroots campaign of social media organizing, community meetings, door-to-door education and lobbying of village officials was unsuccessful, as the Edwards House was destroyed in June 2015.
The campaign, however, led to increased interest in historic preservation and spurred the creation of a village committee to streamline the municipal preservation ordinance.
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Two years after the Edwards House demolition, the Friends of the Edwards House group was honored for its ongoing preservation efforts at the recent Landmarks Illinois Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Awards ceremony.
The organization received the 2017 Landmarks Illinois Richard Driehaus Preservation Project of the Year Award for Advocacy.
“This is kind of like the Academy Awards for historic preservation,” said Rich Kulvaney, chairman of the Friends of the Edwards House. “It was quite an honor. It was humbling.”
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The awards ceremony paid tribute to individuals and organizations that work to elevate historic preservation practice and advocacy in Illinois. Each year, Landmarks Illinois honors nine historic preservation projects and the people who made them happen.
Ken Lerner, chairman of the Pierce Downer's Heritage Alliance, nominated the Friends of the Edwards House for the award.
“We weren’t gunning [for the award],” Kulvaney said. “It was humbling and inspiring.”
He added the award makes all the work the group does worthwhile.
“A lot of us really got upset with the tearing down of the Edwards House,” Kulvaney said.
[Shaw Media file photo]
Since the demolition of the house at 942 Maple Ave., which occurred to make way for a condominium development, the Friends of the Edwards House has focused on education and awareness, Kulvaney said.
The group holds workshops designed to help homeowners take the steps necessary to landmark their homes.
The number of landmarked properties has grown from two to 14 over the past two years.
As a result of the organization’s “persistent and effective local advocacy, the village has come to view historic preservation as a positive value and community priority,” according to the Driehaus Foundation.