It’s that time of year when we pause to reflect on the progress we’ve made in the previous 12 months. Taking stock at the Historic Pullman Foundation (HPF), it’s no exaggeration to say it’s been a jam-packed year!
On February 19, 2021–the six-year anniversary of President Barack Obama designating the Pullman National Monument (PNM)–HPF signed a formal agreement to become the “friends group” to Pullman National Monument-National Park Service. Watch the video of the signing event on Facebook. As part of the festivities, PNM Superintendent Teri Gage presented the first annual Pullman Partner Award to Mike and Pat Shymanski in recognition of their 50-plus years preserving Pullman’s history.
Also in February, The Elizabeth Morse Charitable Trust awarded us a grant to strengthen HPF’s fundraising and communications efforts. The funding enabled us to develop a new brand, including a beautiful logo reminiscent of Pullman’s connections to rail and architecture, designed by All Together studio. We’ve worked hard this year to express the brand’s tagline, “America’s Stories Live Here,” through posts on our Facebook page, our monthly e-newsletter, and of course our new website, developed thanks to major funding from the National Park Foundation as well as support from Morse. We shared the new brand and invited more folks to join us at our first-ever Membership Drive Cookout in July.
As the friends group our first major task was to help plan a memorable Grand Opening Weekend for Pullman National Monument and State Historic Site on Labor Day 2021. Together with numerous local and national Pullman partners including National Park Service, we issued a “save the date” for the big day in June 2021. Meanwhile, our volunteers continued to operate HPF’s popular First Sunday Walking Tours and host visitors to the HPF Shared Visitor Center (eventually renamed the HPF Exhibit Hall, not to be confused with the Pullman National Monument Visitor Center) all summer long. Simultaneously, we worked tirelessly with our partners to prepare for what would ultimately be a four-day “Pullmanpalooza,” including tours, historic rail cars, staged performances, art unveilings, the official ribbon-cutting ceremony simulcast on Facebook, and more to mark the official opening of the park. The weekend’s events attracted more than 6,000 visitors to Pullman, as well as media attention from across the region and around the country.
In early October, there was no rest for the weary, as HPF and Pullman Civic Organization pivoted to host the Annual Historic Pullman House Tour. After a one-year COVID-19 hiatus in 2020, the 2021 House Tour was a great success! That same month, our Board selected Julian Jackson as the new Executive Director of HPF, who will lead strategic efforts to achieve our mission for all people to experience and understand the continuing American story that is Pullman.
We want to thank all of our volunteers, partners, and funders for making this work possible. Yes, 2021 was full of progress, thanks to all of you!
We invite you to join us in 2022 as we continue to preserve and highlight Pullman for current and future generations. Plan to attend new and long-cherished events and exhibits. And support Chicago’s only national park by becoming a member of HPF or donating through our website.