The 1835 Clarke House is Chicago’s oldest standing residence. It is preserved thanks to the stewardship of Bishop Louis Henry Ford and the St. Church of God in Christ. Join us for a conversation about the house and opportunities to broaden the stories we tell about Chicagoans and our beloved city landmarks.
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The Henry B. Clarke House survives thanks to the decades-long stewardship of Bishop Louis Henry Ford and the St. Paul Church of God in Christ, who purchased the house in 1941. The house is a symbol of Black achievement and community resourcefulness, though the official record downplays this critical chapter in the building’s history.
Our evening will feature Pastor Kevin Anthony Ford, discussing his grandfather’s experience as the long-time steward of the Henry B. Clarke House, along with the St. Paul Church of God in Christ congregation. He will address the campaign to add the Ford surname to the property's title and expand the interpretation program to better include his family’s role in preserving the property.
There is a broader context for the work that is currently being done to expand the story of the Clarke House. In 2017, the National Trust for Historic Preservation established the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund. The goal of this campaign is to preserve and protect places that have been overlooked in American history and represent centuries of African American activism, achievement and resilience. Tiffany Tolbert, Associate Director of the Fund, will also be joining us to talk about the initiative on local and national levels.
This program celebrates National Preservation Month, celebrating our heritage through historic sites.
Program moderator: Elizabeth Blasius, Partner, Preservation Futures
Elizabeth Blasius is a leading voice in the history and preservation of vernacular and postmodern architecture and co-founder of Preservation Futures, a Chicago-based firm using the tools of preservation to support equity and resilience in the built environment. Prior to founding Preservation Futures, Blasius worked in natural disaster recovery and mitigation as it relates to historic buildings. Blasius serves on the board of Logan Square Preservation and DOCOMOMO US/Chicago and is Adjunct Professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology College of Architecture.
Presenter: Kevin Anthony Ford
Kevin Anthony Ford is Pastor of Saint Paul Church of God Christ. His lifelong relationship and commitment to the Church of God in Christ, community and residents are deeply rooted in history. Pastor Ford carries on the visionary spirit, fiery passion and the humanitarian tradition of his fathers, Bishop Charles Mason Ford and Bishop Louis Henry Ford (grandfather), in the cause of community awareness. Striving to uplift the moral, social and political consciousness, collaborating with public and private policymakers compelling them to adhere to the needs of underserved communities.
Presenter: Tiffany Tolbert
Tiffany Tolbert is Associate Director of the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund (AACHAF) at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. In her position she directs high‐profile national preservation campaigns associated with African American cultural heritage such as the Nina Simone Childhood Home, the John and Alice Coltrane Home, the HBCU Cultural Heritage Stewardship Initiative and Preserving Black Churches, while advancing the AACHAF priorities of the National Trust. Tolbert previously served as Director of the Northwest Field Office at Indiana Landmarks from 2006‐2017. Tolbert is a native of Montgomery, Alabama and holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Huntingdon College (Montgomery, AL) in Political Science and History and Master of Historic Preservation from Georgia State University (Atlanta, GA).