The City of Champaign established the honorary street name program in 2000 as a way to honor individuals, organizations, entities, and events that either had a significant lineage to the City or had a significant cultural, historical, or humanitarian impact on the City. Honorary street designations have a geographical relationship to the honoree (i.e. the honoree lived or worked at the designated location).
How the City’s Honorary Street Program Works
- Honorary street name designations should be limited to individuals, organizations, entities, and events that either had a significant lineage to the City or had a significant cultural, historical, or humanitarian impact on the City.
- The requested location for the honorary street designation must have a geographical relationship to the honoree, i.e. honoree lived or worked at the location requested for recognition.
- Honorary street designations are limited to one block in length.
- There can only be one honorary street name designation per location.
- There is a limit of four honorary street name designations per calendar year.
- An honorary street name designation will last for 10 years, and is not eligible for renewal.
- Honorary street names for any City employee who lost their life in the line of duty shall be assigned to such blocks as designated by the City Council. Such designations shall be for an indefinite term and not be counted against the four designations per year limit.
Nomination Submission and Review
- Individuals or groups should start by completing an Honorary Street Designation Application Form. Individual letters of support are encouraged and should be attached to the application. It may be helpful to contact your District’s City Council Member to request their assistance in being an advocate to your request.
- Completed applications should be submitted to the City’s Public Works Department for review.
- If the application is complete, Public Works will review and forward the application to the City Council for its consideration.
- If there is sufficient support within Council (five or more members) for the request, the request will be forwarded to the City Manager so that a Study Session can be scheduled regarding the requested designation.
- Public Works will prepare a Report to Council and present the designation request at a scheduled City Council Study Session meeting. Public input on the proposed designation will be available during that meeting.
- If a majority of the City Council supports the designation, Public Works will prepare a Council Bill to approve the designation during a Regular City Council meeting.
- Once the Council Bill is approved, Public Works will create and install signage to commemorate the honorary street name designation.
- In addition to the signs created and installed at the designated location, up to four additional commemorative signs can be created and provided to the nominee for each designation.
Map of Honorary Street Locations
Champaign’s Honorary Street Designations
*This designation honors City of Champaign employees who have lost their life in the line of duty in service to the residents of Champaign. These street designations are in place for an indefinite term.
He dedicated his life to making Champaign-Urbana the best it could be, through creating jobs, providing housing, and promoting the arts, education, and athletics at the University of Illinois. He was involved in the development of many subdivisions and shopping centers in Champaign, the U of I Research Park, and the I-Hotel. To learn more, read the Report to Council.
Mr. Banks started a barbeque business by grilling ribs by the side of the garage and selling them to friends and family. Over time, he built up the business and moved into a small building where the garage had existed. Family members say Mr. Banks used his business to support his family, to build character, and to give back to his community. His nephew recounts, “One day a month, my uncle would have free pop, hot dogs, and chips for the teens, and we all helped as family members to serve the teens.” Banks Barbeque Pit was a haven, a place where African Americans could go to enjoy themselves and participate in the social life of the community without fear of intimidation. The Barbeque Pit also served as an after-school program before federal funds supported these programs. Banks had two areas – one where Mr. Banks was preparing the food and kids could come and talk to him and another geared for teens to just enjoy themselves without fear of violence. Banks organized a convention and parade in his role as a leader in the Shriners. The Banks family was also very active in their church, Bethel AME, where in 1953, Banks, his son, Nathaniel and cousin, Cecil Pope, served on the Building Committee which led to the construction of a new church in 1959. Many people remember the Banks Barbeque Pit with respect and pride, acknowledging the legacy Dawson and Ida Bell Banks, left to their family and community. To learn more, read the Report to Council.
Keegan was at the top of his class academically, played first chair alto saxophone in the school’s band , mentored others, and qualified for the state tennis tournament. Keegan spent many hours practicing on the courts on Plymouth Drive at Morrissey Park as they are the closest tennis courts to Keegan’s home. Keegan’s brother, Leo, and his father, Peter, still play on these courts many times a year. To learn more, read the Report to Council.
Mr. Breen combined painting and sculpture with interior design in his magnificent liturgical works in churches and cathedrals in the Midwest. He oversaw the renovation of Holy Cross Church receiving very positive reviews and resulting in being commissioned to design the renovations of seven more churches, including two cathedrals. Mr. Breen and his wife, Diane, were awarded Pro Ecclesia et Pontifices medals by Pope John Paul II. Mr. Breen’s art is included in national, regional, and local collections – public, corporate, and private. He is a humanitarian, much loved by his students and to whom he has been kind and generous. He is one of only a few local artists who have brought national and international fame to the community, as well as to the U of I. He is both a professional artist and supporter of local institutions to which he has dedicated hundreds of hours. To learn more, read the Report to Council.
In 2011, Bethel AME proclaimed one Sunday “Mrs. B. Day.” Former Champaign Mayor Jerry Schweighart gave Mrs. Bridgewater a Key to the City. Erma Scott Bridgewater was also a charter member of the local graduate chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and a charter member of the local chapter of the National Council of Negro Women. Mrs. Bridgewater had been a member of Bethel A.M.E. Church since age 12 and a member of the Bethel Choir for over 70 years. “She was an extraordinary role model for all of us to look up to, and her legacy will no doubt have impact for generations to come. What a privilege it is for us to claim our community as her home.” To learn more, read the Report to Council.
Together with her mom, Renee, she created a local mission project for youth based on the ASP model known as the Champaign Urbana Service Project (CUSP). Miss Cloyd visited the United Nations during a church trip and found her calling for international relations and world peace. Miss Cloyd moved with her family to Virginia during her senior year of high school and continued her active lifestyle by participating in the International Rights Organization, serving in the Model UN program and working as a lifeguard at the student sports center. Miss Cloyd tragically passed away on April 16, 2007, during the shootings at Virginia Tech. Austin’s favorite quote was “No one can do everything, but everyone can do something. And if everyone does something, then together we can change the world.” To learn more, read the Report to Council.
Mr. Ebert is a famous film critic, former University of Illinois student and Champaign resident, and Honorary Chair of the “Friends of Virginia” Theatre group, which committed to raising funds for the renovation of the Virginia. Mr. Ebert’s Overlooked Film Festival brings 20,000 people from across the country to downtown Champaign each Spring. Mr. Ebert also returns to Champaign each Fall and Spring to conduct workshops for students and the general public. To learn more, read the original Report to Council or the Report to Council renewing this designation. Note: Honorary Street Designations are no longer eligible for renewal.
Robert donated significantly to the Eastern Illinois Foodbank and was an active charitable member of the Greater Community AIDS Project. Mr. Grossman also provided funding for the children of East Central Illinois ensuring their basic needs were met in order to focus on academically improving themselves. He supported the Backpack Buddies program, which provides food to children ensuring they would not be hungry while not in school and he provided warm clothes, coats, gloves, and shoes for entire elementary schools. To learn more, read the Report to Council.
His business career involved real estate developments in Champaign, including Devonshire, Devonshire South, Stratford Park, Glenshire, and Trails at Brittany. Mr. Harrington had a lifetime pursuit to add a Catholic high school in Champaign. He was the lead fundraiser and cheerleader for the creation of St. Thomas More. His dream became reality when the school opened in 2000. To learn more, read the Report to Council.
She was named a Woman of Distinction by the Girl Scouts of Central Illinois in 2004. Ms. Harris served on three community boards including the Family Service of Champaign County Board, Douglass Center Advisory Board, and C-U Area Project Board and served as Treasurer for the American Legion Post 559 Auxiliary. To learn more, read the Report to Council.
He was involved in the construction of the Martin Luther King Subdivision and the Eads Street Subdivision in Urbana and remained a major part of the ongoing reconstruction of North First Street. Johnson also helped organize families who successfully sued the Champaign Unit 4 School District to provide equitable school facilities. Mr. Johnson received many awards for civic involvement including the Milton M. Coehn Award from Citizen Action/Illinois, Outstanding Community Service Award from the National Council of African American Men and the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce, the James R. Burgess Humanitarian Award from the Champaign County Board, and was saluted by the Champaign-Urbana Ministerial Alliance for 40 years of activism against bigotry and prejudice and for removing barriers to achieving the American Dream. To learn more, read the Report to Council.
He played an instrumental part in the University of Illinois’ Learning Training Program designed to increase recruitment and employment of African Americans at the U of I. Rev. Keaton was also instrumental in the implementation of the Consent Decree in Champaign School District Unit 4. This action resulted in the correction of long-standing injustices related to the segregation of African American children throughout the district. He served as a community liaison/advocate for many young people involved in the local court system, as well as an advocate for persons experiencing difficulty with their employment. Rev. Keaton was an advocate for all mankind, with a special investment in elevating our African American community. To learn more, read the Report to Council.
Early in his career, he played around town at Katsinas and Amvets and as his career took off, he returned to play in Champaign. He made over 75 recordings on various labels. His most well-known band was “The Heatin’ System” and he toured with variations of that band most of his life. Mr. McDuff recorded more than 60 albums. Among his most well known are The Honeydripper, Tough ‘Duff Brother Jack Meets the Boss and Sophisticate Funk. Jack McDuff died on January 23, 2001, at the age of 74 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. To learn more, read the Report to Council.
Mr. McGhee has faithfully committed himself to pastoring the Church of the Apostolic Authority congregation for nearly 35 years. Reflected through his community initiatives, his ministry promotes spiritual growth, educational excellence, and faith-based community development. To learn more, read the Report to Council.
Nugent’s achievements are truly monumental in both breadth and depth. He oversaw numerous programmatic “firsts” allowing the University of Illinois to be a leader in providing educational opportunities for persons with disabilities. Mr. Nugent’s legacy is visible wherever the blue and white international symbol of accessibility is displayed. Indeed, his pioneering work in advancing the fields of rehabilitation and education have had profound impact upon the societal integration and participation of person with disabilities. As a direct result of his leadership, the U of I continues to be recognized as one of the most, if not the most, disability friendly university in the nation. For almost 60 years, under the direction of Tim Nugent, the University has helped individuals with disabilities fulfill their goals and realize their potential. To learn more, read the Report to Council.
He taught at Edison Middle School before his nearly 20-year stint at Centennial High School. He brought a wonderful combination of talents to class becoming an institution in the community. He directed more than 100 shows at Centennial involving thousands of students. Keith wore many hats and wore them well. He was also a husband, father, grandfather, and very good friend. To learn more, read the Report to Council.
He distinguished himself as Past Grand Master of Lone Star Lodge #18 Prince Hall Mason of Champaign; Past Potentate of Sudan Temple #93 of Champaign; 33 Mason of Menelik Consistory #49, Springfield, IL; Past Most Worshipful Grand Master of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of the State of Illinois and Jurisdiction. He served on various Grand Lodge committees and was the Grand Auditor Emeritus; an Honorary Chartered Member of American Legion Post #559, Champaign; Past Grand Auditor of Elks Lodge #619; Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #17, Champaign; and an employee of Marine National Bank of Champaign. He also served on the Champaign Park District Board, was a member of the Urban League, and was an Honorary Commissioner for the Champaign Park District. To learn more, read the Report to Council.
Bishop Underwood has served the City of Champaign, as well as surrounding cities to help develop a wholesome place to live and work. He is a leader that inspires making a difference while being committed to the people. He is a pillar in the City of Champaign, giving his all to make the City a safe, wholesome, healthy, and vibrant place to live, worship, work, enjoy entertainment and attend school. To learn more, read the Report to Council.
She organized trips, activities, and events for children who normally wouldn’t get to attend. Due to her countless efforts to eliminate drugs on her streets, Ms. Wesley was named “Drug Buster of the Year” by USA Today in 1993. She was invited to the White House to meet President Bill Clinton. Ms. Wesley took aggressive and bold steps to eradicating drugs and crime from her neighborhood by not just talking, but doing. To learn more, read the Report to Council.