Historic preservation – nice work if you can get it

Chicago appears once again on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s list of endangered places. This year it’s the South Michigan Avenue street wall that’s said to be in danger.

I have a habit of looking at charitable filings for these organizations. The most recent for the National Trust (2006) shows net assets of hundreds of millions of dollars, a net income for the year of more than $50 million, and an executive director who earned $377k plus generous fringes on the year. Ain’t charitable work wonderful?

So what’s preventing the National Trust from simply buying up some of these properties, or buying preservation easements rather than asking the property owners to bear the costs of preserving them?

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