Donald J. Terras, director of the Lighthouse Park District, has worked in the administration of landmark property and as consultant on research projects relating to the use of historic and cultural resources at a broad range of private and public educational institutions including the Evanston History Center's Dawes House Museum, Department of Anthropology at the Milwaukee Public Museum and Department of Special Exhibits at the John G. Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. The Lighthouse Park District is a unit of local government in Evanston, IL, and Mr. Terras is chief administrator, managing the day-to-day affairs of the District and District-operated Grosse Point Light Station museum. This structure was designated a National Historic Landmark by the United States Department of the Interior on the strength of a nomination submitted by Mr. Terras, and is one of few lighthouses in the country to have obtained this status.
Mr. Terras’ work on behalf of the Lighthouse Park District has earned him the Margery Perkins Award from the Evanston Preservation Commission and Richard H. Driehaus Award from the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois (Landmarks Illinois). Both awards are the highest possible honor accorded locally, and within the State of Illinois, recognizing outstanding achievement in preserving and interpreting Grosse Point Lighthouse as an historic site museum. Mr. Terras has also received the Professional of the Year Award from the Illinois Association of Museums for his work that includes research, interpretation, adaptive use preservation planning, publishing, and teaching museum studies at the undergraduate and graduate college levels. In presenting the award, the IAM recognized that. . . “His work reflects a multifaceted approach to the study and management of historic landmark property in the broadest sense of the word.” On a national level, Mr. Terras served on the steering committee to establish a National Lighthouse Museum in New York City and he has been a board member and past president of the American Lighthouse Council, a national lighthouse preservation and education oversight committee. Recently, Mr. Terras was recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award from Evanston for his years of stewardship at Grosse Point Lighthouse which have helped place Evanston in the national preservation spotlight.
Mr. Terras’ most celebrated book is Grosse Point Lighthouse: Landmark to Maritime History and Culture (Windy City Press, 1996). This book won awards for superior achievement in a history publication from both the Illinois Association of Museums and American Association for State and Local History. Lighthouses of Chicago Harbor: Their History, Architecture and Lore (Windy City Press, 2006) is the story of Chicago’s harbor lighthouses in context with the city’s general maritime history. Mr. Terras is also contributing editor of Hugo’s Companions (Windy City Press, 1999) a book that tells the 50-year history of a Chicago literary group. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes (Northeastern Illinois University Press, 2003), is a commemorative edition marking the establishment of the C. Fred Kittle Collection of Doyleana at Chicago’s Newberry Library. Mr. Terras is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin program in Museum Studies and also holds a Master of Science degree in anthropology with an applied interest in the preservation, interpretation and use of historic and cultural resources. He has taught courses on the history and function of museums for the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee and Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago where he received two faculty achievement awards.