First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton Speaks at the National
Museum of American History.
"By giving our own gifts to the future, we can make sure that when the new millennium finally comes, we won't just be celebrating a new year; we will be celebrating the enduring strength of our democracy, the renewal of our sense of citizenship, and the full flowering of the American mind and spirit."
-- First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton
BLUES HEAVEN FOUNDATION
John Mellencamp used to hang around outside just to catch a glimpse of his musical idols. Minnie Ripperton worked the reception desk. Berry Gordy picked up recording industry tips. Chuck Berry wandered in off the street at a previous Chess location hoping someone would listen to his music. The Rolling Stones recorded "(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction" here though they found some by taking their name from a Chess Records song and immortalizing its address in their instrumental "2120 South Michigan Avenue." But this generation of artists built upon the musical foundation laid by musicians up from the Mississippi Delta who found the opportunity to record through brothers Leonard and Phil Chess. The raw and natural sound they produced turned the music industry on its ear and established Chicago as the "Blues Capitol of the World." The Blues influenced other musical forms as noted by singer-guitarist Muddy Waters when he said, "The Blues had a baby and they called it Rock ‘n’ Roll." Chief among the Blues greats who worked here was Willie Dixon, prolific songwriter, producer and bassist. In his later years, he founded the Blues Heaven Foundation to protect Blues artists of the past and inspire future generations with the straightforward power of the Blues tradition. His widow, Marie Dixon, and other Foundation donors, restored this modest building and opened it to the public in 1997, but further restoration of the recording facilities is still needed to fully re-capture the heart and look of its 1950’s and 60’s heyday. The conservation needs of original sheet music, master recordings, instruments and memorabilia held here offer a glimpse of the widespread threat to the survival of irreplaceable music collections all around the country.
Though set amidst the University and City of Chicago, this Prairie style home evokes the flat plains of the Midwest that lie beyond the city. Designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright for manufacturing executive Frederick C. Robie and his family, this 1909 home is considered Wright’s masterpiece of the Prairie style he introduced. In keeping with many of Wright’s designs, Robie House redefined interior space and diminished the boundary between structure and landscape. It also included custom furniture and linens. Many architects have acknowledged this building’s impact on modern architecture and recognized its quintessential American nature. The house served as a private home until 1926 and then variously as a dormitory, dining hall, and university offices before being placed under the management of the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio Foundation and named a National Trust for Historic Preservation site. It has survived the threat of demolition but is currently endangered by the effects of weathering and age. A ten-year restoration effort now underway includes structural stabilization and repair and conservation of original furnishings, fixtures and accompanying materials.
"The World’s Most Perfect Town" -- according to the London Times in 1896 -- this was America’s first model planned industrial town. Pullman was the site of innovation in urban planning, industrial manufacturing, and labor organization. The complex is touted as the most elaborate industrial complex of the 19th century, and its name is familiar to many as the site of the famous Pullman Strike of 1894. As the railroad industry developed, George Pullman (1831û1897) established the Pullman Palace Car Company to manufacture railroad cars. He established a complete town around the company where employees of all income levels could live, shop and play. Tension mounted when the national depression of 1893 reduced workers’ incomes without reducing their Pullman housing expenses. As a result, workers increasingly joined, the American Railway Union, a new type of labor organization that brought all railroad workers together into one union. When negotiation failed, it called a national strike that was not successful in the short term but which proved the potential of organized labor by creating coordinated strike action all around the country. The Pullman Palace Car Company also made history several decades later as the first company to sign a contract with the African-American labor organization, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and Maids founded by labor and civil rights activist A. Philip Randolph. After a heartbreaking fire in December of 1998, the challenge of preserving the main Pullman Factory Administration Building and Clock Tower is greater than ever before, but its deterioration would mean the loss of a landmark that tells several of America’s most important stories. The City of Chicago and the State of Illinois have formed a task force to evaluate options for saving and re-using what remains of the main factory complex, and the community continues its active commitment to preserve their neighborhood’s heritage.
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