On the heels of Pullman being named a national monument, the news yesterday that Old Town's Henry Gerber House, a starting place for the history of gay rights in Chicago, took a big step towards earning National Landmark status shows that the people's history is getting some overdue recognition. Built in 1885, the home at 1710 North Crilly Court was the birthplace of The Society for Human Rights in 1924, becoming the first gay civil rights organization in the nation. On Thursday, the National Historic Landmarks Committee unanimously recommended landmark status for the Gerber House. This means the National Park System Advisory Board will take up the matter in May, and decide whether or not to recommend full, official approval to the Secretary of the Interior.
A soldier stationed in Germany during the years after WWI, Henry Gerber was inspired by the work German activists were doing to overturn their country's anti-homosexual laws, and upon his return the the country and 1924 move to Chicago, began writing and organizing. He only lived at the home on Crilly Court between 1924 and 1925, but managed to found both the Society for Human Rights and the publication Friendship and Freedom.
If the Secretary of the Interior does approve the designation, the Gerber House will join the Stonewall Inn of New York as one of two LGBTQ National Landmarks. The home was previously awarded Chicago landmark status on June 6, 2001.