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Preservation News

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(Champaign) News-Gazette, Nov. 3, 2010

Mumford House Draft Reuse Study

(Champaign) News-Gazette, May 20, 2010

U of I Board Resolution May, 2010

 

Historic Farmhouse Saga Continues

Urbana-Champaign

 

On October 9th, 2010, the University of Illinois demolished later-built additions of the Mumford House, despite objections by the Chancellor’s Mumford House Advisory Committee, on which Landmarks Illinois serves, and despite that this demolition work had not been identified as a Phase I stabilization priority as part of the University’s own Mumford House Historic Structure Report, completed in March, 2010, which was prepared by Vinci-Hamp Architects.

The Advisory Committee objected to this demolition work due to the fact that the Vinci-Hamp report clearly recommended retaining the non-original additions to the house during the initial stabilization period and that the list of necessary stabilization tasks should be a top priority, especially given the university’s limited stabilization budget. The Committee also advised that removal of the later additions before a reuse is finalized was inappropriate and could cause further deterioration to the historic structure. After removal of the wings, the wood clapboards of the house were pressure washed, a cleaning method known by preservation professionals to be damaging to historic buildings.

Publically, U of I officials continue to state that no university department wants the Mumford House. Yet Landmarks Illinois continues to hear from university students, faculty, and area residents that the University has made no serious effort to solicit potential users for the house.

In recent letters to the press, the Chancellor’s office and other university officials, Landmarks Illinois and its fellow Advisory Committee members have stressed that the U of I Board of Trustees has twice voted to support reuse of the Mumford House and that the University’s commitment to this effort should not be misdirected or weakened.

 

 

 

 

 

Phyllis Wise
Chancellor

University of Illinois
317 Swanlund Administration Building
601 East John Street
Champaign, IL 61820
pmwise@Illinois.edu

Background

 

The University of Illinois Board of Trustees voted on May 20, 2010, to reaffirm its support for saving Mumford House, the oldest building on the Urbana-Champaign campus. The action came just a week after university officials had proposed a board resolution that, if passed, would have reversed the Trustees’ previous May 2009 vote to restore and preserve the house in its current location.

In public testimony at the board meeting, Jim Peters, president of Landmarks Illinois, disputed university estimates of “millions of dollars” to fix up the frame structure. “We believe the costs of immediate repairs and stabilization would be less than $70,000,” Peters said, citing the university’s own recently-released reuse study by Vinci-Hamp Architects.

 

If the proposed resolution had passed, there were fears that university officials would have moved the vacant frame structure from its original site on the South Quad—across from the Morrow (Experimental Farm) Plots—to a new location two miles away, in order to provide landscaping for a newly constructed bell tower. A similar relocation effort had been defeated in 2009, thanks to efforts by preservation groups, students, and faculty members. Landmarks Illinois listed Mumford House as one of its 2006 Ten Most Endangered Historic Places.

 

The Mumford House, which was named for an early Dean of the College of Agriculture, was built as a “Model Farmhouse” by the Illinois Industrial University, which evolved into the U of I. After being used for more than a century—first as a residence, then as faculty offices—it was vacated in 1998. Although the university had provided only minimal maintenance since then, inspections confirmed that the building was structurally sound, despite its peeling paint and decayed front steps.

 
       

 

 

 

 

 

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