2019 Preservation Heritage Fund Grant Recipients

Atlanta Public Library District - Atlanta Public Library Building, Atlanta

Grant Amount: $2,500

The Atlanta Public Library Building has consistently served as a public library since it was constructed in 1908. The octagonal building— one of the only remaining such structures in the state—was designed by architect Paul Moratz of Bloomington. It remains the most iconic and beautiful building in Atlanta and serves as an anchor in the downtown area. Additionally, the library is a magnet for tourists as it sits on Route 66. The condition of the library’s interior is excellent, thanks to the detailed renovation, but the exterior gutter system is in need of significant repair. The gutter system is original to the building and has deteriorated significantly in recent years, now showing numerous holes and rotten exterior trim. LI’s grant will help pay for the gutter repairs.


Bureau County Historical Society - Matson Building, Princeton

Grant Amount: $2,500

Since 1912, the Matson Library Building has served as an architectural example of the Prairie Style design with a long history of use as a library in the Princeton community. Its architectural features—terra cotta roof, copper trim, stained glass windows and its interior oak wood finishes—have made this a local “landmark” on Courthouse Circle. The Bureau County Historical Society, which owns the building, plans to turn it into a history learning center for the Bureau County area. LI’s grant will provide funding for repairs to the building’s awning.


Vince Carney Community Theatre - Lincoln Elementary School, Rochelle

Grant Amount: $2,500

The old Lincoln Elementary school, built in 1909, has been vacant since 2011 when the school district constructed a new elementary school in another part of town. Because of the cost to bring the entire building up to code is prohibitive, the Vince Carney Community Theatre is seeking to renovate the building by bringing only a portion of it up to code for use as a community theater. The remainder of the building will be used for housing theater equipment, props, scenery, etc., and for work areas for building sets. The City of Rochelle supports this project as it can serve as a catalyst for reinvestment in the southern portion of the community. LI’s grant will help provide funding for the first phase of the project, to be completed in early 2020, which includes is exterior repairs to the decorative plaster work around the old main entrance, main entry stairs, miscellaneous tuck pointing and painting trim.

Schuyler County Architecture Foundation - Ray House, Rushville

Grant Amount: $5,000

The Ray House was built in the 1850s and remains one of the oldest homes in Rushville. It is a beautiful example of Gothic Revival and Victorian architecture and is perhaps best known for hosting Abraham Lincoln during his 1858 senatorial campaign. Unfortunately, the Ray House, which LI included on its 2019 Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois, sits vacant and has suffered significant deterioration following years of deferred maintenance. A local nonprofit, the Schuyler County Architecture Foundation, has started a campaign to raise funds for the much-needed restoration. LI’s grant will help with Phase 1 of this work, which prioritizes the roof, including stabilization and repair of open areas in second story walls to protect the structure from additional water damage.

Wilmington Area Historical Society - Museum Building, Wilmington

Grant Amount: $2,500

The limestone building constructed in 1879 that now houses the Wilmington Area Historical Society originally served as the city’s fire house and later City Hall.   Although owned by the City of Wilmington, the Wilmington Area Historical Society has an agreement to use the building for its museum and is responsible for repairs and upkeep. The Historical Society recently completed roof repairs and is now seeking funds to tuckpoint the building. LI’s grant will help fund necessary tuckpointing work.

Bolingbrook Historic Preservation Commission - Boardman Cemetery, Bolingbrook

Grant Amount: $950

The Bolingbrook Historic Preservation Commission (BBHPC) was established by the Village Board in 1993 to preserve Bolingbrook’s rich heritage. In addition to collecting information and artifacts, the BBHPC is restoring headstones, grave markers and plaques at Boardman Cemetery, which was established in 1832. The BBHPC has been awarded two Preservation Heritage Fund grants to assist with the restoration of individual headstones throughout this historic cemetery. The latest grant will help the BBHPC continue this project and complete restoration of several headstones through a workshop training volunteers in the work.

Washington Historical Society - Dement House, Washington

Grant Amount: $2,500

The Washington Historical Society was established in 1981 and in 1995 purchased 101 and 105 Zinser Place to restore them as historical museums. The two buildings house a historic museum and library for genealogy research. The Greek Revival-style Dement House was constructed in 1858 as a doctor’s residence and office. The neighboring bungalow was a pre-fab house built as Dr. Zinser’s office in 1916. It was never used as a residence. Recently, the Historical Society has made necessary repairs to the bungalow and now needs to focus their attention to the Dement House, which requires chimney and porch repairs as well as painting.

Campton Township - Whitney Schoolhouse, Campton Township

Grant Amount: $5,000

The Skyline Council, Landmarks Illinois’ young and emerging professionals committee, began working with the Village of Campton Hills in 2015 to restore the Whitney Schoolhouse, a one-room schoolhouse constructed in 1852 by John Whitney. The Skyline Council continues to partner with Campton Township officials to restore the historic schoolhouse and fundraise for structural repairs, which the LI grant will be used toward. Thus far, Skyline Council has secured $41,600 in grants and in-kind donations for the restoration project.

Heritage Preservation Foundation - Beardstown Grand Opera House, Beardstown

Grant Amount: $4,400

The Beardstown Grand Opera House was constructed in 1872 and serves as a focal point for cultural diversity in this town of 5,600 people. The second floor stage and auditorium are still in use for theatrical productions. The first floor has three storefronts on the main street. In 2004, the local nonprofit dedicated to restoring the National Register-listed building, the Heritage Preservation Foundation, purchased the opera house. The building’s domed ceiling, with intricate stenciling and plaster walls have been damaged by water infiltration prior to a new roof installation in 2013. The building is currently without a functioning HVAC system. The Foundation is requesting a grant for a new HVAC system with the long-term goal of restoring the interior of the auditorium to reflect the original design.

Beverly Unitarian Church - Chicago

Grant Amount: $4,000

Modeled after an Irish castle, the Givens House was built in 1886 by an unknown architect working for real estate developer Robert Givens, and has been the home of the Beverly Unitarian Church since 1941. This Joliet Lemont Limestone structure is within Chicago’s Longwood Drive Historic District as well as the Ridge National Register Historic District.

The “Castle” is in need of restoration to protect the structural integrity of the stone turrets, crenellations and roof. The Castle Restoration Task Force, made up of members of the church and community, is responsible for the management of project. They have obtained pro-bono services from Women in Restoration Engineering (WiRE), which completed a conditions assessment of the turrets. They are also working with AVA Consulting and Revive Architecture for the project.

Blue Island Historical Society - Albee House, Blue Island

Grant Amount: $4,000

The Albee House, built in 1878, has been the headquarters of the Blue Island Historical Society since 2003. During a major renovation in the early 1960s, many of the home’s architectural features were stripped, the wood clapboard siding was covered with aluminum siding and the large wraparound porch was removed with an addition built in its place on the south side of the building. Much of the interior of the building remains intact, except for the parlor, where the addition transformed it into the Woman’s Club’s large main meeting room.

The Blue Island Historical Society has seen a rebirth in the past three years, with a newly-created robust schedule of annual events and a large-scale membership recruitment initiative, money has been raised to replace a dangerous electrical system, along with other important repairs and improvements. In the meantime, the exterior of the building has continued to deteriorate, with water damage that has crept into the interior of the building, peeling paint and rotting wood as the most concerning issues. To address these issues, the Historical Society has exposed the front facade to determine where water is penetrating. The next phase, which LI’s grant will provide funding for, is to address both structural and cosmetic issues on the front elevation.

St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church - Country Club Hills

Grant Amount: $4,000

St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, constructed of Joliet Limestone in 1873, is most recognizable for its prominent 90-foot steeple. The oldest structure in the area serves not only for Sunday worship but also as a place for key community services, with the building in use most days of the year.
The congregation, through fundraisers and local donations, have raised the money to complete Phase 1 of the two-phase “Reaching Up/Reaching Out” campaign. The first phase included an $86,000 repair of the lower portion of the steeple. The church is now embarking on Phase 2 of the repair project, which includes the upper portion of the steeple and which the LI grant will provide funding for.

Vermillion County Museum - Fithian House, Danville

Grant Amount: $4,400

The Vermilion County Museum is located in the home of pioneer physician William Fithian, who in his time, served as prairie legislator, horseback doctor, Civil War surgeon and personal friend of Abraham Lincoln. Fithian hosted Lincoln many times when he visited Danville and in September of 1858, Lincoln gave a speech from the south balcony of the house when he was campaigning for the U. S. Senate. The balcony, the window Lincoln stepped out and the bedroom Lincoln used on his visits remain as they were that autumn day in 1858.

The museum is in the middle of a five-year renovation plan, with several restoration projects completed since 2016. Currently, the 1855 brick Italianate style house is in need of a new roof and masonry repairs.

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