Ward Miller
Ward Miller speaking in front of St. Adalbert Church in Pilsen. Credit: Mary Lu Seidel

Looking for a short answer to the question of why Chicago needs to save, say, the shuttered, circa 1920 Continental Can Company building at 3815 S. Ashland? Or that ordinary little old yellow brick warehouse at 206 S. Jefferson? Stumped about why anyone should have to be worried about something as recently built as 1965’s Taft Hall at UIC?

Ward Miller can tell you, but the answer probably won’t be short. You’ll want to get a good meal under your belt, make any necessary pit stops, grab a cup of coffee or something stronger, and settle into a cushy chair with feet up and a neck rest before you dial him up to ask.  

Because Miller knows everything about Chicago’s architectural heritage. A tireless communicator in the cause of preserving that heritage, he’s been a regular presence at related government hearings and neighborhood meetings. Anytime I’ve covered them, I’ve found him there—patiently waiting for a turn at the mike to make yet another impassioned pitch for saving a piece of the city’s history.  

A native Chicagoan who cut his teeth working with preservation architect John Vinci, Miller is former executive director of the Richard Nickel Committee. Since 2013 he’s been executive director of the increasingly influential Preservation Chicago (check out their excellent monthly watchdog newsletter). As he’ll be happy to tell you, Continental Can, the Warehouse (where Frankie Knuckles created house music), and Walter Netsch’s brutalist Taft Hall are all on Preservation Chicago’s 2023 list of the city’s seven most endangered buildings.

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