Photograph by April Slabosheski
Soon the Stonewall Inn may not be the lone LGBTQ-centric Landmark on the National Historic Register. Last week, the National Historic Landmarks Committee unanimously agreed for the Gerber House to move forward in the process to becoming a recognized landmark. Next, the nomination will head to the National Park Service Advisory Board in May 2015, and then to the Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewel, for final approval.
The Gerber House, located at 1710 North Crilly Court in Chicago, Illinois, honors the civil rights work of the Society for Human Rights, which Henry Gerber founded in 1924. The SHR was the first chartered organization to publically advocate on behalf of an oppressed homosexual minority, but was disbanded in 1925 when Gerber and other members were taken into custody without any charges being filed against them. Gerber kept advocating for homosexual rights and influenced the Mattachine Society and other gay rights groups of the 1950s. The present-day campaign for LGBTQ equality is still inspired by Gerber’s original work.
Currently, there are only six places recognized by the National Historic Landmarks and National Register of Historic Places (NR) programs for their association with LGBTQ history: Stonewall in New York City (designated a landmark in 2000); The National AIDS Memorial Grove in San Francisco, Calif. (a National Monument); the Carrinton House and the Cherry Grove Community House and Theater both located in Fire Island, New York. Outside of New York there is the Franklin E. Kameny Residence in Washington, D.C. and the James Merrill House in Connecticut.
This 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.