Pleasant Home and Unity Temple have been selected as two of 25 sites in the Chicago area for the Partners in Preservation initiative, run by American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The announcement came Thursday at a press conference at the Art Institute.

In 2006, American Express pledged $5 million over five years to go towards preserving historic sites in the United States.

This year, Chicago is the focus. Unity Temple and Pleasant home will now compete against each other and the 23 other sites for $1 million in restoration grants. Voters can help pick a winner at www.partnersinpreservation.com. Contest winners will be announced in November. The final grant recipient will be selected based on its historic significance, project plan, community impact, organizational excellence and completion date, according to the Partners in Preservation website.

The money will be divided based on which sites get the most votes.

Pleasant Home hopes to use the grant to restore the 1901 fence surrounding the home and Mills Park, said Laura Mercier, executive director of the Pleasant Home Foundation. They hope to strip and repaint the fence and clean its limestone base, which would cost around $250,000.

The Park District of Oak Park also suggested Cheney Mansion, Scoville Park and the Oak Park Conservatory, the latter two are both on the National Register of Historic Places, as other possible contestants.

“This is an amazing opportunity,” Mercier said. “Pleasant home is a little jewel here in Oak Park and sometimes I think we get overlooked by Frank Lloyd Wright enthusiasts…This is a great opportunity for people to see what a real treasure this house is and to come out and support it.”

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