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 programs 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.

In 2005, the Maxwell Street Foundation produced a limited edition portfolio of Maxwell Street photographs by 11 Chicago photographers, spanning an era from 1937 to 2000. Please see the Maxwell Street Collection Limited Edition portfolio, here.

Maxwell Street Foundation Facebook

Old & New Maxwell Street Discussion Group on Facebook

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

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 early childhood programs and the youth volunteer 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). She has an M.A. degree in American History from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Lori Grove is Grants Manager at Josephinum Academy of the Sacred Heart high school in Wicker Park. Prior, she 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). As a former museum professional, she enjoyed a long career at The Field Museum as a scientific illustrator, and an Illinois State Museum project to develop and implement a statewide tour of a traveling exhibition on the Illinois River. 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.
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.
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.
Mary Gerace owns and operates Mary Gerace Enterprises, a marketing, events and publicity consulting firm focusing on self-employed persons, local small businesses and small nonprofit organizations. As a "professional volunteer," she has always included pro bono projects in her portfolio and considers this aspect of her work essential to her career. She's a proud graduate of Roosevelt University, an educational institution with a renown social justice legacy. A native Chicagoan, her Italian heritage and dedication to cultural and built-environment preservation drew her to the Maxwell Street Foundation. After serving on the MSF advisory council for 10 years, Mary transitioned to its Board of Directors. She considers Maxwell Street's origin model of opportunity a fundamental piece of Chicago's history, because it gave early immigrants a way to earn a living and early blues performers a place to busk.
Joe Lendabarker is an educator and musician in Chicago. He studied public history and secondary education at DePaul University, earning a BA and M.Ed in the respective fields in 2018 and 2019. Lendabarker first became aware of the Maxwell Street Foundation in the fall of 2014, after completing Janelle Walker's 'Exploring Maxwell Street and Pilsen' course for first-year students at DePaul. He joined the MSF advisory council in 2016, and later the MSF board of directors in fall of 2021. Lendabarker supports the mission of the Maxwell Street Foundation by vending at the New Maxwell Street Market with Peter Pero. Currently, Lendabarker works for Chicago Public Schools.
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.
Ira Berkow was a sports reporter and columnist for the New York Times and he shared the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting, which was awarded to the staff of The New York Times for their series "How Race Is Lived in America". He is the author of many books including "Maxwell Street, Survival in a Bazaar".

Advisory Council

Judith Stefanovic Christopoulos, Barry Dolins, Joseph Gollinger, Ed Hirschland, Nicholas Jackson, Vincent Johnson, Robert Ambrose Kennedy, Larry Lund, Gene Mackevich, Alan P. Mammoser, Andrew Manocheo, Bonni McKeown, Ward Miller, Vincent L. Michael, Robert Packer, Dan M. Parker, Marc PoKempner, John H. Sibley, Dr. Martin C. Tangora, Alan Teller, Morris J. Vogel, Frank Williams, Mike Winkelstein, Elliot Zashin