On February 12, 2015 the National Historic Landmarks Committee, chaired by Dr. Stephen Pitti of Yale University, unanimously approved the nomination of the Henry Gerber House at 1710 North Crilly Court, Chicago, Illinois to move forward as a National Historic Landmark (NHL). The nomination goes next to the National Park Service Advisory Board in May and then to Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell for final approval. When approved, the Gerber House will be only the second NHL focusing on America’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) history (the first was Stonewall, in New York City, designated an NHL in 2000).
Recognition of the Gerber house as an NHL will pay tribute to the pioneering civil rights work of Gerber and the Society for Human Rights (SHR) which he founded in 1924 and which was the first chartered organization publicly advocating on behalf of an oppressed homosexual minority. The SHR disbanded in 1925 after Gerber and other members were taken into custody without charge. Gerber continued to advocate for homosexual rights, and his influence is felt in the founding of the Mattachine Society and other groups in the 1950s. The ongoing campaign for equal treatment under the law of all LGBTQ citizens traces its origin and much inspiration to this pioneer and his organization.
Recognition of the Gerber house will acknowledge the extraordinary significance of 1710 North Crilly Court not only to LGBTQ citizens but to America’s own account of its civil rights struggles.
The Henry Gerber House nomination was prepared by Jonathan Farr, Amanda Hendrix-Komoto, Andrea Rottmann, and April Slabosheski, graduate students at the University of Michigan as part of the University of Michigan Public History Initiative. Their advisor was Dr. Michelle McClellan. The nomination was presented to the Landmarks Committee by Amanda Hendrix-Komoto. The nomination was written as part of the National Park Service’s LGBTQ Heritage Initiative, which was announced at Stonewall by Secretary Jewell in May 2014. Mark Meinke, co-founder of the Rainbow Heritage Network and Megan Springate, Prime Consultant for the LGBTQ Heritage Initiative and co-founder of the Rainbow Heritage Network, were among those who spoke in support of the nomination.