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The City of Evanston is honoring two former mayors by renaming rooms in the Lorraine H. Morton Civic Center. Evanston’s City Council Chambers will be renamed in honor of former Mayor James C. Lytleand the adjacent Aldermanic Chambers will be renamed in memory of former Mayor Joan Barr-Smith. The public is cordially invited to the dedication ceremonies and the receptions that will immediately follow.
The James C. Lytle City Council Chambers will be dedicated on Monday, September 21, 2015 at 7 p.m. and the Joan Barr-Smith Aldermanic Library will be dedicated on Monday, October 19, 2015 at 7 p.m. The Morton Civic Center is located at 2100 Ridge Avenue, Evanston.
James “Jay” Lytle was elected alderman of Evanston’s 6th Ward in 1973. Following his term as alderman, he was elected to serve as mayor for two terms from 1977-1985. During his tenure as mayor, he focused on issues relating to economic development, housing, public safety, capital improvements, and improving the delivery of health and human services. His accomplishments include negotiating for the building of the American Hospital Supply Corporation Building (500 Davis St. building), establishment of long-term City budget policies, creation of a City Board of Ethics and a Housing Commission, and the implementation of a low-interest Mortgage Revenue Bond program, among others.
Lytle has actively participated in various community organizations, including American Cancer Crusade, United Community Service, Project Earn and Learn, Evanston League of Women Voters, and Evanston Theatre Company. In 1988, Lytle purchased the Pioneer Bank, and in 1995 founded First Bank & Trust. He retired from a lifelong career as a banker in 2014.
In 1977, Joan Barr-Smith was elected as the first female alderman of Evanston’s 2nd Ward. After serving two terms as alderman, she became the first female mayor of Evanston in 1985. Barr-Smith served two terms as mayor until 1993, then went on to work for the State of Illinois Department of Employment Security. During her tenure as Mayor, Barr-Smith was known for her commitment to economic development and for fostering town-gown relations with Northwestern University. Her accomplishments include the development of Evanston’s downtown, construction of a new main library, creation of the blue ribbon panel on homelessness, founding of the Northwestern University/Evanston Research Park, and the redevelopment of Marshall Field’s building, among others.
Barr-Smith’s lifelong participation in numerous civic organizations began when she served as president of the Dewey Community Conference. She also was an ordained deacon in the Episcopal Church, a position she served until well into her later years. Barr-Smith passed away on March 21, 2015.