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Friends of the Pullman State Historic Site :: Current Initiatives

The Market Hall, Ca. 1940s

Currently, our efforts are focused on four main areas.

1. Support the site

We raise funds for the Pullman State Historic Site, of course, for things like purchasing period lighting and purchasing archival supplies. We also help by volunteering efforts to maintain the site, conduct tours, and staff events as needed.

2. Rescue the rear erecting shop

Only two structures remain of the once vast Pullman Palace Car Company’s factory complex in the Pullman neighborhood, Building Numbers 1 and 4. The Administration Building and Building Number 1 (the "Clock Tower") is now part of the Pullman National Monument and is supported and administered jointly by the National Park Service and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Historic Sites Division (IDNR). Building Number 4 has not been so fortunate. While owned by IDNR, there have not been any funds or plans for restoration or even rescue of this part of the Factory complex.

Building Number 4, like the Clock Tower itself, suffered significant damage in the December 1, 1998 arson fire. In order to preserve what remained of the structure, the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency removed the badly damaged roof, shored up and protected the window openings and doors, and protected the tops of the exposed walls with sheet plastic overlays. These protection measures were intended to be temporary, a five year stopgap until such time as the state could address the serious damage done to the building in the fire. The five year stopgap is now approaching its twentieth year. The site shows significant mortar failure, spalling, and brick failure. Without a roof, the interior of the structure is as exposed as the exterior, and masonry damage is significant both inside and out. We are concerned that the structure is in danger of collapse, and that a significant windstorm could devastate the property beyond the capability of repair.

With grant funding, we are funding an evaluation study from the noted architectural/engineering consultant firm Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc. The sooner we know exactly how dire the situation is, the sooner we can be proactive. We can then use the evaluation study to get bids from architectural firms to restore the building to be an asset to the site.

3. Restore and display the Advance

The State of Illinois currently owns a Pullman heavyweight sleeper car named the Advance. We are currently working with several partners to restore this 1911 car and display it at the Pullman National Monument.

The Advance was built at the Pullman Factory complex in 1911. It was built to plan 2502, lot 3848. It was a heavyweight observation business car, at slightly under 90 feet long. It was a no-frills business car, sleeping 14 people (10 in bedrooms, 2 in servants' quarters, and two in the observation room). It was upgraded in service (electrical, air conditioning, etc.) in 1936 and renamed the "Asheville". In 1944 it was sold to the Algoma Central Railroad and renamed the "Michipicoten". After being acquired by Canadian National, the car was donated to the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency in 2009.

There is currently federal transportation funds to restore and move the car to Pullman; however, the state needs to provide a percentage match. We are working with other partners to provide the matching funds.

4. Build an archive

We are proud of our continuing efforts to support and build upon efforts that have established a comprehensive archive of information about Pullman. The archives consist of two main parts.

The House History Project. The PHHP consists of more than 41,000 records in the system, consisting of the 1883 and 1889 city directories, the 1900-1940 censuses, the 1894 Tribune strike canvass, and the 1916 phone book. In addition to the PHHP records, the records also tie into the Façade program records as well as the PIN number driven database of house images.

A catalog of online images. There are more than 7,800 records and images online at http://www.pullman-museum.org/catalog/. Most of these records have been entered by volunteers. We are in the process of moving these records to a new platform to increase their availability.

We would like to build a permanent, conditioned space for the housing of our archives. We hope to make this dream a reality.

How you can help

Become a part of something wonderful-- support us here by joining the Friends group. Your tax-deductible membership fee helps us to support this internationally recognized historic site.


11111 S. Forrestville Ave., Chicago, IL 60628  |  872-216-4858 |  friendsofpshs at gmail.com