It is gratifying to see fresh efforts by notable preservation leaders turn toward ways to preserve the Oak Park home of Percy and Anna Julian. It is also important that those efforts include ways that allow Faith Julian, the only family member still living in the home, to be active in the process and to continue to live in the North East Avenue home.

Last month, Landmarks Illinois and the Oak Park Public Library hosted a presentation on the legacy of the Julians in their respective fields, their violence-fraught move to Oak Park in the early 1950s, and their role in civil rights.

Kendra Parzen, advocacy manager for Landmarks Illinois, talked about both the architectural importance of the home and its historical relevance as the home of the world-famous chemist and his family.

“To have a home with this magnitude and this importance does not happen a lot. It’s very much unique,” she said.

As the Journal has reported in recent years, the home faces challenges, including significantly deferred maintenance and some amount of unpaid taxes. With Ms. Julian’s health challenges, efforts to move forward have been determined but somewhat fragmented. It could be notable if Landmarks Illinois were to take on an active advocacy in repairing the home, resolving tax issues, and then steering it toward a future public purpose. That appears to also be the goal of Ms. Julian.

Parzen said one option could be to create a nonprofit entity that would own the home. She said it is possible there can be a national audience interested in the preservation and future use of this home.

Oak Park, its leaders, volunteers, and government, have all expressed interest in the past in finding a path forward that protects a home with profound ties to this village’s lurching history of racial integration. With potential leadership from the state’s leading preservation organization, there may be a structured plan that we can align with.

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