The Preservation and Conservation Association has impacted the local community in many ways over the last thirty-one years. PACA’s early years were spent in researching historic properties and conducting historic building surveys. PACA campaigned successfully to save significant local buildings–the Cattle Bank, Urbana High School, the Nathan C. Ricker House, and the Orpheum Theatre. Some campaigns were unsuccessful–the 100 block of West University (Christie Clinic), the Champaign County Sheriff’s Residence and Jail, and the University of Illinois Engineering campus. PACA also lobbied extensively for the creation of local historic preservation commissions. Champaign and Urbana finally established preservation commissions in the 1990s and have designated numerous local landmarks.
PACA has also been visible in other ways. Exhibits on historic preservation have been staged in public libraries, shopping malls, and home shows. Volunteers have manned the phones during WILL-TV fund raising events. Architectural salvage items have “starred” on stage during productions by the Champaign-Urbana Theatre Company, the Station Theater, and the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. Local sculpture classes have used PACA items. And many local non-profits and schools have benefited from free items supplied by the salvage program. Financial and technical support has been provided to individuals and groups seeking to save, preserve, or restore historic properties.
PACA has an enduring relationship with the University of Illinois. Our members reach out to UIUC students in the Architecture and Urban and Regional Planning Departments. This relationship benefits PACA, the community, and the students who gain valuable practical experience in preparation for careers in Historic Preservation. Some recent projects include documentation of and creating an electronic animation of the Gothic Arch; fabrication of replica architectural elements for the Harwood-Solon House; and, preparation of as-built plans for the Harwood-Solon House. In addition, UIUC students have documented entire neighborhoods of historic properties, providing invaluable archival resources. Some of these efforts led to National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) nominations that students prepared and followed through the requisite nomination process. Members of the UIUC’s chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians (SAH) have volunteered on salvage projects and as tour docents.
Other educational outreach includes supporting Champaign’s Edison Middle School, which is preparing video presentations of historic neighborhoods and has conducted two archeological digs on the Harwood-Solon House property. PACA supported Leal School (Urbana) projects that created neighborhood tour brochures and donated prizes to the Urbana High School historic art competition. The Architeacher program has received long-term financial support from PACA.
PACA has awarded over $65,000 in Heritage Grants between 1994 and 2008. Projects include any of five categories: bricks and mortar, land acquisition/move, professional architectural feasibility study, preservation education, and interpretation. Funding for this program is supported by PACA memberships, donations, and sale of salvage materials.