News from Garfield Farm
On Thursday, April 21, Garfield Farm Museum will recognize the Kane County Forest Preserve?s Fabyan Windmill restoration, EarlyChicago.com., the Winnetka Historical Society and seven families who participated in land preservation programs in Campton township during the museum?s 17th annual Awards dinner at Dunham Woods Riding Club of Wayne, IL. The awards were established to recognize organizations and individuals whose activities paralleled any one of the three preservation or educational themes of Garfield Farm Museum, history, farming and the environment.
A new appreciation recognition, Cooperator for Campton?s Conservation, will be presented to 7 families who were willing to sell their lands for preservation in Campton Township. For years, the land preservation community has known that saving natural areas, farmland, and cultural landscapes can only be done with the cooperation of the landowner. All the money, all the best intentions, all the community support can mean nothing, if a land owner is not interested in selling their property for the public benefit. Cases where owners could have received more money by selling for preservation but still chose to sell for development are common. Selling property is full of emotional issues, misconceptions of the economics of real estate, mistrust of the market, lack of understanding the value of time, money and opportunity, and often involves a number of parties related by blood or marriage or by business partnerships.
The seven families and/or individuals that in the past 4 years were willing to cooperate in Campton Township with forest preserve, county, township and non profit organizations will forever leave a positive impact on the community. The first family in Campton to take steps was also the first family to sell a 118 acre agricultural conservation easement to the new Kane County Farmland Preservation Program. The Edna Strom family set the tone for what has become the first funded, successful county farmland preservation program in the Midwest and the first in Illinois.
Robert Corron of Virginia was one of the first families to settle Campton Township in 1835. It is so fitting that his great-grandchildren, Robert, David, Sally and their mother Lucinda were the first to sell their historic farm to Campton Township?s Open Space Program. They were patient to work with not one but two public land preservation entities as they sold the other half of their farm to the Kane County Forest Preserve. In this way, Campton and Kane partnered together to preserve this 400 acres.
The Kent Shodeen family is well known for the urban, rural, and commercial development properties they have created. They also have demonstrated a concern for the community in their support of various public charities. One would not expect that a developer would consider selling holdings for preservation and yet Campton Township?s Headwaters Conservation Area of over 240 acres exists because of their cooperation. It demonstrates that here, a prominent developer recognizes the need for open space in the community to make the community a desirable place to live.
The Bruce Poynor family reflects a common situation where property was purchased by a previous generation with a desire to own land for some future return. Real estate is a very different asset compared to stocks, bonds, cash, or personal property. Stories of how someone really ?cashed in? on a speculative property often ignores how many years of holding the property, paying taxes, maintaining the property, actually tied up money that could have been investing in other opportunities. Carefully weighing the pros and cons and willing to do something that would have a lasting impact, the Poynors concluded Campton Township Open Space Program met their needs for their 120 acre parcel.
The Mel Mongerson and Bill and Nancy Mongerson Warner families have a long history in Campton Township. The Warners have affected many lives as teachers in the Campton and St.Charles. Mongerson has a realistic understanding of asset management as he owns the LaSalle Street Mongerson Securities. The families were recognized in 2003 for their willingness to work with Garfield Farm Museum and sell 95 acres to the museum. Now in 2005, they are appreciated for selling the remaining 64 acres of their farm to Campton?s Open Space Program as soon, that acreage will be surrounded by the Settlements of LaFox development.
It is very common for a conservation group to simply not have the resources to protect a property when a seller is ready to sell. Hopes in 1997 were dashed, when it was not possible for the museum?s land preservation agency, Campton Historic Agricultural Lands, to buy the 9 acre Garfield Harley Woods and Vernal Pond. Yet ensuing conversations with the new owner, Kevin Fitzpatrick, a stockbroker with Stifel Nicholaus, opened a new opportunity. As the 23 acre property Fitzpatrick acquired could be divided in 6 building lots, he was willing to consider selling the woods to CHAL. His reducing the price to CHAL in a bargain sale enabled CHAL to obtain the support of a Kane County Riverboat grant and an Army Corps of Engineers grant administrated by the Fox Valley Land Foundation, to buy the property and preserve this rare ephemeral wooded wetland and its uplands.
As Garfield Farm Museum has a flock of Pilgrim Geese, the museum understands what is good for the goose is good for the gander. In the purchase of the 95 acre Mongerson Brothers Farm in 2002 by CHAL, CHAL was willing to sell its agricultural easement to Campton Township and the Natural Resource Conservation Services Farmland Protection Program of the United States Department of Agriculture.
The Kane County Forest Preserve has demonstrated a vision that the assets of its holdings are intertwined with the natural environment and cultural history. The KCFP?s $750,000+ commitment to restore the rare Fabyan Windmill at the Fabyan Forest Preserve will be recognized with a Historic Preservation Award. This rare Dutch style windmill was built in the mid nineteenth century in DuPage County and moved by Col. Fabyan to his Batavia estate in the 1910s. Its restoration is demonstrated proof the Forest Preserve recognizes that current and future generations appreciate the diversity of resources that the Forest Preserve holds for the public trust.
The Winnetka Historical Society is being recognized for its efforts to save and preserve the 2 story Schmidt-Burnham log house. The house is one of the oldest surviving log structures in northeastern Illinois and in its earliest incarnation, served as a stop or inn on the old route from Green Bay, WI to Chicago. The society?s persistence and perseverance is an important demonstration for preserving the Chicago region?s earliest history and a tribute to the community?s concern for a sense of place.
A Historic Preservation Award will be given to Dr. Ulrich Danckers of River Forest, Ms. Jane Meredith of LaGrange Park, and Mr. John Swenson of Glenview, IL who have created EarlyChicago.com. This Website demonstrates the great potential of the Internet to preserve historical facts and research. The accessibility of the site for researchers and history enthusiasts is additionally valuable because it is constantly updated and edited as new research comes to light. It is becoming the ?go to? source for the history of Chicago predating the mid 1830s. Swenson was also instrumental in researching the origins of the Winnetka Historical Society?s Schmidt Burnham House and determining that the wild leek was the plant the gave Chicago its name. These professionals have taken an avocation and hobby and made it available to all.
Garfield Farm Museum is the only historically intact 370 acre former 1840s Illinois prairie farmstead and teamster inn being restored as an 1840s working farm and inn museum. Volunteers and donors of over 2700 households from 37 states and 4 countries have given their labor and in excess of $7 million to save and preserve this National Register site. The museum is operated by the Garfield Heritage Society and the land preservation agency, Campton Historic Agricultural Lands (CHAL) holds the property. Both groups were founded in 1977 to meet the wishes of Miss Elva Garfield, who donated 2/3 of her family farm for preservation. CHAL can help individuals preserve natural areas, farmland and historic properties throughout Illinois.
Individuals who would like to attend or help sponsor the awards dinner and ceremony should contact the museum at 630 584-8485 or email firstname.lastname@example.org . Garfield Farm Museum is located in the center of Kane County five miles west of Geneva, IL.
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