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31st Annual Garfield Farm Museum Awards:
One Room School House to Governor’s Mansion

Award recipients:

  • Diana Rauner, restoration of the Governor’s Mansion in Springfield
  • The Skyline Council, Preservation of Whitney One-Room School Houe, Campton Township
  • Fox Mill Masters Homeowners Association, Restoration of Granquist Farm dairy barn
  • Gibbons, historian, author, and restorer of 1839 Miller house in Geneva

CAMPTON HILLS, IL: On Saturday, April 13 at 8 pm following dinner, Garfield Farm Museum (GFM) will recognize four historic preservation endeavors at the 31st Annual Garfield Farm Museum Awards Ceremony at the historic Dunham Woods Riding Club in Wayne, IL.

    The 2019 award winners range from an author, a home owners association, and a young professionals’ organization to the former First Lady of Illinois. Each effort is an excellent example of initiative that is the hallmark quality of many of the past award recipients. As Illinois celebrates its 200th year of statehood, preserving its heritage is a particular focus for the 2019 awards.

    Its is common agreement that much needs to be done to get Illinois' "house" in order but few realize the very symbol of our state’s First Family’s Home by 2014 had fallen into an incredible state of disrepair with holes in the roof and flooding in the basement. The Governor’s Mansion was built in 1855, expanded, and rehabilitated through the years as the “People’s House”. It is one of only three continuously occupied state governor homes in the country. A second floor apartment serves as the state family’s private quarters, the rest of the home provides for state functions and is a historic house museum. Diana Rauner, as First Lady served as chair of the Illinois Governor’s Mansion Association from 2015-2018. She was the driving force to raise $15 million of private funding to re-establish the dignity of the state’s First Home. This feat is an inspiration to all to not wait for someone else to take up a cause and thus Mrs. Rauner is being awarded a Garfield Farm Museum Historic Preservation Award.

    Where the next generation of historic preservationists will arise is a concern when one of the oldest one room schoolhouses in the state is facing deterioration. When Skyline Council member Erica Ruggerio worked on a historic preservation study for the village of Campton Hills, IL, she persuaded fellow Council members to embrace it as a project. The Skyline Council is a group of young professionals interested in historic preservation and architecture that is a branch of Landmarks Illinois, a nonprofit historic preservation advocacy group. The Art Gustafson family have been willing donate the building since the 1980s for preservation. Thanks to the Skyline Council working with Campton Township, this 1852 Greek Revival frame schoolhouse is planned for a move to the township’s open space, Gray Willows Farm. This initiative by the next generation of preservationists inspires all who value America’s heritage and the Council will receive a GFM Historic Preservation Award.

    The passing of responsibility from one generation, one group to the next is a major challenge in historic preservation today. When Kane County was the first county in Illinois to establish a historic preservation commission in the late 1980s, the county approved the Fox Mill development in Campton Township provided two of the three historic farmsteads be preserved. One, the now landmarked first settler John Beatty farmstead, has been privately restored by 1999 GFM award winners David and Penny Newkirk. Less certain was the future of the Verner Granquist farmstead buildings that make up Fox Mill’s Community Center. Credit goes to the Fox Mill Masters Homeowners Association that has engaged Trillium Dell Timberworks to restore this early 20th century dairy barn, a landmark on the neighborhood’s landscape. As barns disappear from the American scene, here amongst 670 plus families, a reminder of the importance of our agriculture and its heritage will be re-enforced in young minds of today and the future. The Association is being given a Historic Preservation Award.

    It was exceptional when a historian and author was able in a couple of years to compile a two volume illustrated history of Campton Township. Adam Gibbons topped himself when he followed it up with a 490 page history of Campton’s Wasco, Illinois at the behest of the late George Bergland, third generation descendant of Wasco’s founders. Yet this Geneva, IL resident and past president of Preservation Partners, could not sit on the sidelines as one of Geneva’s oldest homes, the 1839 Hendrick Miller house faced demolition. A Garfield Farm Museum Historic Preservation Award is most appropriate for his initiative and financial effort, as he and his wife Heidi have moved the home onto a lot for rehabilitation. For a former New Yorker to so thoroughly adopt his new home state teaches us long term residents to better appreciate and discover our own backyards. Though the future of historic preservation is of great concern, it is rewarding to find four such individuals and groups ready to embrace what needs to be done.

     The former Oak Lawn Farm, one of the world’s largest draft horse breeding facilities in the world in the late 1800s, survives in part as the Dunham Woods Riding Club that consists of 40 acres, several historic barns, and the late 1830s Solomon Dunham farmhouse converted to a clubhouse. The late Miss Jane Dunham was a very generous supporter of Garfield Farm. Its historic farm setting is the perfect venue for museum’s awards evening. Following a 6 pm reception and 6:45 pm  buffet dinner, the 8 pm Awards Ceremony will start with recognition of the Class of 2018 donors to The 1840s Society. Following the Awards, a review of the $750,000 2018 projects at the museum will be given.

    For museum members it is $50 a person, guests $55 and to help sponsor the evening a donation of $50 or more will include listing in the evening’s program. To receive an invitation by mail or e-mail please respond to or call 630 584-8485.