WBEZ | museums http://www.wbez.org/tags/museums Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Charles Gates Dawes: The forgotten man and his home http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2011-12-19/charles-gates-dawes-forgotten-man-and-his-home-94793 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-December/2011-12-19/AP360609012.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>"Once upon a time there were two brothers. One of them went to sea, and the other became Vice President of the United States. Neither of them was ever heard of again."</p><p>That's an old vaudeville joke, and it always got a laugh. It was true enough. Charles Gates Dawes was our 30th vice president, and he lived right here in Illinois. But unless you're from Evanston, you probably never heard of the guy.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" height="326" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-December/2011-12-10/12-19--Dawes House.jpg" title="Chicago History Happened Here: 225 Greenwood St. (Evanston)" width="490"></p><p>Dawes was born in Ohio in 1865, became a lawyer, and practiced in Nebraska for a while. Then he got into banking and Republican politics. In 1909 he moved into the house at 225 Greenwood Street in Evanston.</p><p>During World War I, Dawes was a brigadier general in charge of procurement. He was called before a congressional committee investigating waste. The questions became heated, and he finally exploded. "Hell and Maria, we weren't keeping a set of books!" he yelled. "We were trying to win the war!" The newspapers loved it, and he became known as Hell-and-Maria Dawes.</p><p>(<em>We will pause here to ponder what Dawes meant by "Hell and Maria." Does anybody cuss like that today?</em>)</p><p>After the war Dawes went to work in the Harding Administration. He was Budget Director, and was later put in charge of German reparations payments. Because they'd lost the war, Germany had to pay billions of dollars to the victors.</p><p>So Dawes came up with the Dawes Plan, which worked something like this--(1) U.S. loaned money to Germany, (2) Germany used the money to pay reparations to Britain and France, and (3) Britain and France sent the money back to U.S. to pay their own war debt.</p><p>If you're not an international banker, this may sound like an odd way of doing business. But the plan did win Dawes the Nobel Peace Prize.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" height="330" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-December/2011-12-11/12-19--C.G. Dawes.jpg" title="C.G. Dawes (Library of Congress)" width="270"></p><p>In 1924 Calvin Coolidge was president, and running for re-election. Party leaders wanted someone from swing-state Illinois on the ticket. After ex-Governor Frank Lowden turned down the VP slot, Dawes was selected. He delivered his acceptance speech from the porch of the house on Greenwood.</p><p>Coolidge and Dawes won the election. After that the two men didn't get along. It didn't help when Vice President Dawes missed a crucial tie-breaking vote in the Senate. He was back in his hotel, taking a nap.</p><p>After his single term as vice president, Dawes was ambassador to Britain, then returned to banking. He died in 1951. Today his Evanston home is a museum.</p><p>Dawes was also an amateur composer. His "Melody in A Major" was often played as his theme song at political gatherings. Lyrics were added to the original Dawes music later, and in 1958 Tommy Edwards's recording "It's All in the Game" reached #1 on the <em>Billboard </em>chart. Can Cheney or Biden match that?</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/akbfXUA08OY" width="480"></iframe></p></p> Mon, 19 Dec 2011 11:45:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2011-12-19/charles-gates-dawes-forgotten-man-and-his-home-94793 Chicago's oldest house? http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2011-09-07/chicagos-oldest-house-91526 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-September/2011-09-07/Noble House Chicago_WBEZ_Schmidt.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago is gearing up to celebrate the 175th birthday of the Henry B. Clarke House. Located a mile south of the Loop, it's usually cited as the city's oldest building. But out in the Norwood Park neighborhood, at 5624 N. Newark Avenue, there's an even older house.</p><p>Mark Noble was English by birth. Along with his family he arrived at the little settlement near the mouth of the Chicago River in 1831. He operated a saw mill and helped organize a Methodist congregation.</p><p>In 1833 Noble claimed 150 acres of land a dozen miles northwest of town. He built a small frame house on the Waukegan Road and moved into the life of a gentleman farmer. But he died in 1839, and his widow sold off the property.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-September/2011-09-05/09-07--Noble House.jpg" style="width: 495px; height: 379px;" title=""></p><p>Noble's house passed through a series of owners. Thomas Seymour bought it in 1868. He was part of the company developing the new village of Norwood Park in the area. Since the Seymours were a large family, he added a two-story addition to the original building.</p><p>Seymour used the property as a country farm. He planted a vineyard, and an orchard with over a thousand apple and cherry trees. For a while he raised blooded short-horn cattle.</p><p>Chicago annexed Norwood Park in 1893. Waukegan Road became Newark Avenue. Thomas Seymour died in 1915, and the property to the north and west was subdivided. The house was sold again.</p><p>The new owner was concert pianist Stuart Crippen. He added electricity and indoor plumbing, converting the house into a year-round residence. It remained in the Crippen family for over 70 years. As the children grew up and got married, the house was divided into separate flats.</p><p>In 1987 the Crippens put the old homestead up for sale. Developers had their eyes on the 1.7-acre property, but the Norwood Park Historical Society beat them out. The purchase price was $285,000.</p><p>With aid from various sources, the historical society began renovating the Noble-Seymour-Crippen House. The goal was to restore it to an early 20th Century appearance. While the work was going on, the original provenance was confirmed--the southern section of the house dated from 1833, making it the oldest building within the Chicago city limits.</p><p>The house became an official city landmark in 1988. In 2000 it was put on the National Register of Historic Places. The house has even made it into the movies, appearing in John Goodman's film "The Babe."</p><p>Chicago's oldest house is operated as a museum. The historical society stages many events on the grounds, most notably the June yard sale. The house itself is open to the public on Saturday afternoons. Since the society is still paying off its mortgage, contributions are gratefully accepted.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 07 Sep 2011 12:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2011-09-07/chicagos-oldest-house-91526 Latino youths organize for control of Radio Arte http://www.wbez.org/story/latino-youths-organize-control-radio-arte-86809 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-May/2011-05-19/Zavala1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Some young radio producers are organizing for control of the Chicago area’s only noncommercial Latino broadcast outlet.</p><p>They’re upset about plans by the National Museum of Mexican Art to sell the building and license of WRTE-FM Chicago (90.5), a youth-run station known as Radio Arte that airs music and public affairs content in English and Spanish.</p><p>Transmitting at 73 watts from Little Village, Radio Arte reaches several other Latino neighborhoods of the city’s Southwest Side and some nearby suburbs.</p><p>The station also trains hundreds of volunteers a year and puts dozens on the air each week. Some have formed a group to try to keep the station in their community’s hands.</p><p>Many of these volunteers share a bond: They don’t have papers to be living in the United States.</p><p>“Radio Arte helped me learn to fight back,” said volunteer Adriana Velázquez, 20, who arrived in the Back of the Yards neighborhood from Mexico at age 11.</p><p>Velázquez graduated from Benito Juárez Community Academy in nearby Pilsen and dreamed of going to college. But her immigration status disqualified her from most financing.</p><p>“So I felt like all I had done all these years in high school — being a good student, a good member of the community — was not worth [anything] to people,” she said Thursday.</p><p>Velázquez said her life changed in 2008, when she started working on a Radio Arte show, <em>Salud: Healing Through the Arts</em>. “That summer was when I started really talking about my status and sharing that with other students who were also going through my situation,” she said.</p><p>“It was kind of a relief to feel [at] home somewhere, not feeling ashamed that I was undocumented,” said Velázquez, now a music-performance student at Northeastern Illinois University.</p><p>Velázquez and the other volunteers want control of Radio Arte’s name, license and transmitter. But they haven’t won over museum officials.</p><p>President Carlos Tortolero said the volunteers were making too much of the museum’s plans. “Radio, to a lot of funders, is old school,” he said. “And we can still do radio classes without a radio station. A lot of people are streaming now online and podcasting.”</p><p>Tortolero said selling the building and radio license would free up resources for projects in other media such as video and computer graphics.</p><p>The Radio Arte volunteers counter that terrestrial radio signals still reach much bigger audiences than web streaming and podcasting do. “That’s especially true in immigrant and low-income communities,” Velázquez said.</p><p>The license’s market value is not clear. Radio Arte staffers say the museum paid $12,000 for it in 1996.</p><p>Tortolero said the museum hasn’t received any offers yet but adds he’s talking with potential buyers, including DePaul University and California-based Radio Bilingüe. He has also met twice with Torey Malatia, chief of Chicago Public Media, the parent of WBEZ.</p><p>Interviewed Wednesday, Malatia said his organization would not have cash for the license at this point. But Chicago Public Media is preparing a proposal to “help with operations and costs,” he said.</p><p>“We deeply respect Radio Arte’s mission,” Malatia said. “If we get involved, we would keep the tradition alive.”</p><p>Malatia said Chicago Public Media would connect Radio Arte to WBEW-FM (89.5), a youth-oriented station known as Vocalo that transmits from Chesterton, Indiana. Vocalo Managing Director Silvia Rivera worked at Radio Arte for more than a decade, including three years as general manager.</p><p>If the Chicago Public Media proposal were accepted, Radio Arte likely would continue broadcasting student- and volunteer-run shows, while “primetime blocks would be simulcast” with Vocalo, according to Malatia.</p><p>“As this story gets out,” Malatia added, “it puts pressure on DePaul and [Radio Bilingüe] to close the deal, and probably will pull some religious buyers into the mix.”</p><p>The building, 1401 W. 18th St., houses Radio Arte’s offices and studios as well as Yollocalli Arts Reach, another youth program of the museum. The wedge-shaped structure has two stories and a partly finished basement. Tortolero said the space totals about 11,000 square feet.</p><p>The museum had a real-estate appraiser look over the building this month but Tortolero said his team has not yet set the asking price.</p><p>The building stands on the corner of Blue Island Avenue and 18th Street. The intersection includes a Mexican-themed plaza that serves as a cultural anchor of Pilsen, a neighborhood whose Latino population has been shrinking.</p><p>The volunteers say they won’t try to buy the building.</p></p> Fri, 20 May 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/latino-youths-organize-control-radio-arte-86809