Hyde Park Historical Society honors members of the UChicago community at awards dinner

University Communications

The Hyde Park Historical Society has announced the 2016 winners of its Paul Cornell, Marian and Leon Despres Preservation and Jean F. Block Book awards presented at its annual dinner on Feb. 27 at the Quadrangle Club, 1155 E. 57th St.

This year’s winners included John Boyer, dean of the College and the Martin A. Ryerson Distinguished Service Professor in History; Prof. Theaster Gates, professor of visual arts and director of Arts + Public Life; and alumni Judith Stein, AB’62, AM’64, and Almarie Wagner, AM’68. The night’s guest speaker, Jay Mulberry, spoke about the life and achievements of Cyrus Leroy Baldridge, a University of Chicago graduate and noted world traveler, artist, journalist and author.

The 2016 Jean Block F. Book Award, which honors a recently published, scholarly, nonfiction book that focuses on Hyde Park Township, was awarded to Boyer for The University of Chicago: A History.

The book, an in-depth coverage of the history of the University from 1857 to the present, was praised for its numerous and detailed citations, many of which were drawn from the University’s archives, and for the author’s profound understanding of the University and his objectivity on the most controversial subject matters.

The 2016 Marian and Leon Despres Preservation Award, given for outstanding achievement in preserving Hyde Park Township’s architectural heritage, was given to Gates and the Rebuild Foundation for various creative restoration projects, which provide cultural spaces and community-driven programming in an effort that Gates terms “ethical re-development.”

These projects include Stony Island Arts Bank, a focal point of the recent Chicago Architectural Biennial, and the Dorchester Art + Housing Collaborative. Gates was also cited for his involvement with other restoration projects in the Washington Park neighborhood, such as the Arts Incubator, Currency Exchange café and Bing, a fine arts bookstore.

The 2016 Paul Cornell Award, which recognizes individuals and organizations whose work exemplifies the values and objectives of the community, was given to Stein and Wagner for bringing to fruition the work begun 17 years ago by Wagner's late husband, Jim, with the Hyde Park Jazz Society. Both members of the Committee to Restore Jazz, Stein and Wagner have worked to assure the continuation of jazz programming in the area.

Today, the Hyde Park Jazz Society sponsors approximately 50 well-attended shows a year at Room 43 in North Kenwood. It co-produces the highly popular Hyde Park Jazz Festival that will celebrate its 10th anniversary in September.

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