CROSSIN AUSTIN BOULEVARD: This story is part of an ongoing series of articles that Austin Weekly News publishes about issues, events, people, places and things that take place west of Austin Boulevard, but that nonetheless resonate to the east of it, as well.
The childhood home of Fred Hampton, which is located at 804 S. 17th Ave. in Maywood, is closer to becoming a historic landmark. Hampton, the famous leader of the Illinois Black Panther Party, was assassinated by law enforcement officials inside of his West Side apartment on Dec. 4, 1969.
During a meeting on March 11, the Maywood Historic Preservation Commission voted unanimously to move the historic landmark nomination process forward to a public hearing next month.
During the meeting, Tom Kus, the commission’s chairman, said the public hearing would take place during a Board of Trustees meeting. The first village board meeting in April is a Committee of the Whole meeting scheduled to take place at 7 p.m. on April 5. Kus added that the public notices will be sent to all adjacent property owners and notice of the public hearing will need to be published in a newspaper 15 days before the hearing takes place.
Kus said the ultimate decision on whether or not to landmark the Hampton House will be the village board’s to make, but Kus indicated that the commission will likely recommend the board vote in favor of the petition. If the village board approves the landmark nomination, the Hampton House will be the village’s 26th historic landmark, Kus said.
During the meeting, a spokesperson for the Hampton family said that the family may also move to get the Hampton House listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
On its web page, the commission explains that a building or site that’s determined to have landmark status “contributes to the value of its community and raises awareness of its cultural history. Once a building or site has been landmarked, the Maywood Historic Preservation Commission must review requests for its alteration or demolition, and grant a Certificate of Appropriateness before any major changes to the property that require a building permit are made.”
Local landmarks also get several benefits, including the opportunity for a property tax freeze and various financial incentives, such as income tax credits for historically appropriate renovations, the commission added.
The historic landmark status has been a long-standing goal for Chairman Fred Hampton Jr., Hampton’s son and leader of the Black Panther Party Cubs, an offshoot of the Black Panther Party.
In addition to an online petition that was created to garner support for the landmark status, Congressmen Bobby Rush and Danny K. Davis both offered their support for landmark status late last year.
Hampton Jr. is working to turn his father’s childhood home into a museum. So far, he’s made the home a community gathering space, installing a Little Free Library, a community refrigerator stocked with free food and a memorial bench on its grounds, among other features.
After the commission meeting, Hampton Jr. expressed satisfaction with how the landmark process has been moving so far.
“We appreciate all of the people’s support,” the Black Panther Party Cub chairman told community activist Randall McFarland, who live-streamed the commission meeting on Facebook.
“This is historical,” McFarland said. “This is the beginning of the process. What we just witnessed and what you all are witnessing is historical.”
The commission vote took place nearly four years after the Hampton House was nearly lost to a foreclosure auction. The foreclosure action was avoided after community members rallied in support of Hampton Jr.’s efforts to save the house.