The Foundation

The mission and purpose of the Maxwell Street Foundation is to preserve and interpret the history of Chicago’s Maxwell Street neighborhood for future generations through public programming and special events.

Beginning in 1993, one year before the historic Maxwell Street Market was moved from the location it had occupied since 1912, future Foundation members advocated alternatives to the removal of Maxwell Street residents, businesses and buildings as the University of Illinois at Chicago cleared the area for its south campus expansion.

Working first as the Maxwell Street Museum Project, a not-for-profit Illinois corporation organized by members in 1996, and then as the Maxwell Street Historic Preservation Coalition in 1998, the organization worked tirelessly to preserve the built fabric of the street and support the preservation of its history.

Ultimately, their influence succeeded in preserving eight buildings and one façade for adaptive re-use and the dismantling and relocation of twelve facades in the University’s redevelopment plan. The organization then turned its focus to the history of Maxwell Street and began to produce materials to interpret the history for a variety of audiences through books, film, theater, museum exhibitions and more. In 2004, the organization became the Maxwell Street Foundation.

The Maxwell Street Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization and contributions are tax deductible.

Maxwell Street became the Ellis Island of the Midwest for 100 years.
Ira Berkow

Who We Are

Lori Grove is a museum professional and has been involved in the preservation of Maxwell Street since 1990. During this time, she co-authored two National Register nominations for a Historic District in the Maxwell Street area (1994 and 2000), and Chicago's Maxwell Street (Arcadia Publishing, Inc., 2002). She enjoyed a long career at The Field Museum as a scientific illustrator, and has developed and implemented a statewide tour of a traveling exhibition for the Illinois State Museum. Currently, she works in the Department of Visitor Services at the Art Institute of Chicago. Ms. Grove is a founding officer of the Maxwell Street Foundation. She has an M.A. degree in Art History from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Laura Kamedulski is a program coordinator in the Children's Garden at The Morton Arboretum and enjoys sharing her love of nature with children and families through a family tram program, a library storytime, preschool classes and a teen volunteer gardener program. At the Chicago History Museum, she worked as a public historian for exhibition development and an assistant educator for school programs, where she played a key role in the "Neighborhoods: Keepers of Culture" exhibit project for Chicago's Near West Side and discovered the unique draw of the Maxwell Street Market. Ms. Kamedulski is co-author of Chicago's Maxwell Street (Arcadia Publishing, Inc., 2002), and an officer of the Maxwell Street Foundation. She has an M.A. degree in American History from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Steve Balkin is a Professor Emeritus of Economics at Roosevelt University. His interests are in in the areas of micro-enterprise development, poverty alleviation, cultural preservation and the economics of crime. He has published numerous academic journal articles, op-eds and one book entitled Self-Employment for Low Income People. As a community activist, he refers to himself as a "social justice and culture worker". He has been inspired by personalities connected to Maxwell Street such as Saul Alinsky, Simone de Beauvoir, Bill Lavicka, Andy Patner and Clarence "Lil Scotty" Scott. In 1994, he was an adviser to the Maxwell Street Vendors Association. He has a strong bond to St. Francis of Assisi Church in the Maxwell Street neighborhood, where he volunteered in 1996 with the St. Francis Preservation Committee to successfully save the church from demolition. Currently, Dr. Balkin is focused on the sustenance and vitality of the New Maxwell Street Market on Sundays and holds a presence there with vendors and shoppers, and by taking photographs. Dr. Balkin has a Ph.D. in Economics from Wayne State University in Detroit.
Barry Dolins is an adjunct professor at Dominican University in River Forest, Illinois, where he teaches a History of Rock and Roll and Blues and Jazz Appreciation. He is retired from the Mayor's Office of Special Events, where he served as Director and coordinated the Chicago Blues Festival from 1984 to 2010. His ties to Maxwell Street began in his youth, when he sold sunglasses at the Maxwell Street Market and was introduced to Maxwell Street blues music. At Loyola University, he conducted a seminar on mini-blues festivals and developed a multi-media curriculum, Chicago Blues: An Urban Experience, supported by the Illinois Arts Council and the Carnegie Miller Foundation. He continued graduate work in Folklore and Folklife at the University of Pennsylvania and was the special products buyer at Hear Here Records in Evanston. Barry has served as a governor of the Chicago Chapter of the National Academy of Arts and Sciences, and on advisory boards for the Blues Heaven Foundation, Maxwell Street Foundation and Company of Folk. He produced a blues series at the Old Town School of Folk Music and also created the Japan Blues Festival, which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary. He has traveled to Aomori, Japan; Shanghai, China; Prague Czech Republic; and Cognac, France to present blues programs. Barry was the Maxwell Street Foundation's introduction to the Chicago Blues Festival as a nonprofit sponsor, and he participated with the Foundation's Blues Fest programming. Barry holds an M.A. degree in history from DePaul University; his thesis was titled "House Party Piano: an Underground Music in Chicago, 1913-1928".
Nick Jackson is a photographer, illustrator and writer addressing the intersection of personal and regional histories. Mr. Jackson spearheaded the current partnership for the Maxwell Street Foundation with StoryCorps in 2015 to record the oral histories of people associated with the Maxwell Street Market and its neighborhood. From 2012 to 2014, Mr. Jackson served as a Peace Corps volunteer in a rural Ukrainian town, where he taught English and art classes. Since returning to Chicago, he has continued teaching as well as producing illustrations and comics. These include "Falling Rocks", an illustrated narrative of the protests in Kyiv that he presented in the "Brain Frame" performative comics reading series. He was recently awarded a Fulbright study grant that will send him back to Ukraine in 2017. Mr. Jackson holds a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Lee Landry is a photojournalist, a unit still photographer for film productions and a long-standing illustrator. He has traveled halfway around the world with camera in tow, where he has documented his experiences in images. He is published in various magazines, newspapers and books. In the 1990s, Lee took aim at the Maxwell Street Market and developed a photographic series about the area entitled, "Maxwell Street: The People", documenting the people of the street that is historically known for its market, shops and blues music.
Janelle Walker is an urban folklorist with research interests focused on the development and transformation of public spaces in the city of Chicago. Her dissertation, "Saving Maxwell Street: People, Power, and the Politics of Urban Aesthetics in Chicago," documents and explores the implications of the destruction and gentrification of the Maxwell Street market and neighborhood. Dr. Walker is a member of the American Folklore Society and a former officer for the Maxwell Street Foundation. She currently teaches the Chicago Quarter (First Year Program) at DePaul University, that features the class "Documenting Maxwell Street and Pilsen". She holds a Ph.D. in Folklore from Indiana University and an M.A. in English Literature from the University of Chicago.
Peter N. Pero is a retired educator for the Chicago Public School system. He has focused on educational events and street promotion for the Maxwell Street Foundation since 2007. He currently teaches at the Poder Learning Center in Pilsen and volunteers at the Illinois Labor History Society. Mr. Pero is a writer with a focus on Chicago history. He has authored The History of Chicago's Pilsen Neighborhood and Chicago Italians at Work for Arcadia Publishing, Inc., and Soul Survivors: Historic Catholic High Schools in Chicago. He has traveled extensively in Latin America, Europe and Asia and believes that many cultures of the world can also be discovered at the New Maxwell Street Market every Sunday in Chicago. Mr. Pero earned an M.A. degree in history from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Advisory Council

Ira Berkow (Honorary Member), Judith Stefanovic Christopoulos, , Dr. Irving Cutler (Honorary Member), Mary Gerace, Joseph Gollinger, Ed Hirschland, Vincent Johnson, Joe Lendabarker, Larry Lund, Gene Mackevich, Alan P. Mammoser, Bonni McKeown, Vincent L. Michael, Marvin E. Newman, Robert Packer, Marc PoKempner, Dr. Martin C. Tangora, Alan Teller, Morris J. Vogel, Elliot Zashin