Q: What is the Pullman National Monument?

The Pullman National Monument was established by Barack Obama by Presidential Proclamation 9233 on February 19, 2015. The proclamation states that the monument shall fulfill the following purposes “for the benefit of present and future generations: (1) to preserve the historic resources; (2) to interpret the industrial history and labor struggles and achievements associated with the Pullman Company, including the rise and role of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters; and (3) to interpret the history of urban planning and design of which the planned company town of Pullman is a nationally significant example.” The Federal Government owns the Factory Administration (Clock Tower) Building and the State of Illinois owns the Hotel Florence. The other structures are privately owned.

Pullman is also a National Historic Landmark District and City of Chicago Landmark District, but as the proclamation states, "the monument shall be the dominant reservation."

Q: What is the Pullman National Monument Preservation Society?

The mission of the PNMPS is to encourage preservation and authentic restoration of the historic designed landscape of the model Town of Pullman (1880-1907) through legal advocacy and public outreach so that the legislated purposes of the Pullman National Monument are fulfilled for the benefit of present and future generations.

Our organization has been active since October 2015, and was formally organized in June 2016. We held our first public event at the 43rd Annual Pullman House Tour on October 8-9, 2016.

The Pullman National Monument Preservation Society of Pullman, Inc. was incorporated as an Illinois Not For Profit Corporation on November 16, 2016 and received its 501(c)(3) approval from the Internal Revenue Service on January 20, 2017. Our registration under both the Charitable Trust and the Solicitation for Charity Acts was approved by the Office of the Illinois Attorney General on April 14, 2017 (CO# 01072335).

Q: If Pullman has been declared a national monument, why is your organization necessary?

While national monuments are protected by the full force of federal law and National Park Service (NPS) regulations, seeing that these laws and policies are enforced is difficult, time-consuming, and costly. Similarly, the NPS faces ongoing political and economic pressures that make it difficult for the agency to fulfill its stewardship mandate.

The sad reality is that the laws in place to protect America's cultural heritage are notoriously weak in their design and execution. Loopholes in bureaucratic processes and co-option by business interests have tipped the balance of power against the protection of our collective cultural heritage.

In the case of Pullman, some feel that its okay to subvert the laws and regulations that protect the Monument or to sacrifice its architectural, historic, and cultural resources in exchange for short-term political and economic gain. We don't.

Q: What do you do?

We are watchdogs. We monitor activities by those responsible for the management of the monument and consult to ensure that all undertakings consider the preservation of Pullman’s resources first, as required by law. When resources of the monument are threatened, we use all available legal means to ensure that “historic resources” of the Pullman National Monument are protected.

We also work to educate Pullman residents and the public about the laws and regulations governing management of the Monument and the National Historic Landmark District, as well as, the significance of the "historic designed landscape" of the Town of Pullman (1880-1907) and of Pullman's historic and cultural significance.

Q: How does your Pullman preservation group differ from others?

Because Pullman is such an interesting place with such a rich history, it has attracted many organizations and supporters. Although many groups operate in and behalf of Pullman, we are the only independent organization whose primary purpose is legal advocacy to ensure the preservation of the "historic designed landscape" of the Town of Pullman (1880-1907)--"America's first planned industrial community," the birthplace of Labor Day, and "the world's most perfect town."

Our actions help ensure that local, state, and federal officials comply with federal law and NPS regulations governing the management of the cultural resources of the Pullman National Monument and the Pullman National Historic Landmark District.

Responsible stewardship begins with efforts to properly research and document Pullman's history, then to apply this knowledge to better understand and preserve this unique cultural landscape.

Q: How can I support the PNMPS?

One easy way to help is to share information about our ongoing efforts with your friends and family, and via social media. You can "Like" us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter or Instagram.

As you can imagine, the type of legal advocacy we do is time consuming and costly. At this time, we exist with the help of Pullman residents and others who have generously donated to ensure our ongoing operation.

You, too, can make a monetary donation to the Pullman National Monument Preservation Society; we are a 501(c)(3) not for profit corporation and a registered charitable organization in the State of Illinois. Donate today.

Q: Is you organization anti-development?

The State of Illinois contains over 36 million acres of land, much of it available for economic development activities. The 203 acres encompassed by the Pullman “National Monument Boundary” have been reserved by President Obama for the primary purpose of the “proper care and management” of Pullman’s “historic resources.”

This doesn’t mean that development is forbidden within the national monument, it simply means that preservation of the monument’s “historic designed landscape” should be given first consideration. If a conflict exists between preservation and development, federal law and NPS regulations have established clear procedures for resolving such conflicts. If these procedures are violated, we will not be mute.

Historic preservation and development are not mutually exclusive. As Vince Michael, Ph.D., an internationally recognized leader, scholar, author in heritage conservation has stated, "Preservation is development." 

Given the abundance of vacant land, available buildings, and comparatively low population of Chicago's South Side, no compelling reason exists for any project to destroy the historic resources of the Town of Pullman. Any worthwhile project can be undertaken by adaptively reusing existing historic structures, locating the project on sites unaffiliated with Pullman history, or as a last resort, reconstructing lost Pullman buildings in their original location and adapting them for an appropriate contemporary use.

Q: Can the NPS regulate activities on private property?

Yes. It is common for non-federally held lands to be located within national monument or national park boundaries. As in local zoning ordinances, as long as activities on these private lands do not conflict with the stated purposes for these parks, the NPS does not have to exercise any authority over privately held lands.

However, when activities on these lands threaten park resources, the NPS has both the duty and the power to regulate these activities, even if they take place on privately held land. Ample legal precedent exists for this, and NPS Management Policies 2006—the System-wide policy document of the NPS—outlines a range of “land protection” methods available to the NPS.

Here is the opening text from Section 3.1 of Management Policies: "The National Park Service is required by the 1916 Organic Act to protect and preserve unimpaired the resources and values of the national park system while providing for public use and enjoyment. A number of park units have nonfederally owned lands within their authorized boundaries. When nonfederal lands exist within park boundaries, acquisition of those lands and/or interests in those lands may be the best way to protect and manage natural and cultural resources or provide for visitor enjoyment. When acquisition is necessary and appropriate, the Park Service will acquire those lands and/or interests as promptly as possible, consistent with departmental and transaction and appraisal policies. Practical, cost- effective alternatives will be considered and pursued by the Service to advance protection and management goals."