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Garfield Farm Museum Awards Preservation Groups of Northern Illinois

On May 6th, the 16th Annual Garfield Farm Museum Awards Dinner will recognize individuals and organizations that have demonstrated concern for the three inseparable themes of the museum: history, farming, and the environment. The 2004 Historic Preservation Award will go to the Thurnau Road Neighbors. Bob Conro began investigating Kane County's new Rustic Road Program as a possible way to preserve this classic gravel country road that winds between ILL Rt. 47 and Rt. 72, near Hampshire, IL. This area is threatened as 5 municipalities race to incorporate its irreplaceable farmland and endangered Swainson hawk habitat. This voluntary designation by Thurnau Road property owners, requires review of any proposed changes to the scenic features of the road and right of way. This group became the first to successfully dedicate their road as a Kane County Rustic Road.

Its twelve year record of land preservation and its special stewardship of the oldest surviving railroad prairie in Kane County have earned the Fox Valley Land Foundation the Environmental Conservation Award. For several years, the FVLF partnered with the Union Pacific RR to manage the prairie plants in the right of way just east and west of LaFox, IL. When METRA received funding to add a third track and move its commuter yards to Elburn, IL most of this 149 year old railroad prairie was doomed. The FVLF enlisted the aid of Frasz Landscaping and the St.Charles Park District to perform a major plant rescue and moved an entire acre of 8 inch thick sods to Campton Hills Park.

The challenge of preserving open space, natural areas or farmland is requiring multiple partnerships. When the McGinley family, owners of Horizon Farm wanted to preserve their farm, the Barrington Hills Conservation Trust, the national Equestrian Land Conservation Resource, and the Conservation Foundation ( a previous Garfield Farm Award recipient) stepped forward. As a result of a generous donation of a conservation easement by the McGinleys, a 400 acre farm in the heart of suburban expansion will remain forever open. This is one of the largest private donations of a conservation easement in Illinois. These actions have earned the Agricultural Preservation Award.

Garfield Farm Museum is a 370 acre historically intact former 1840s prairie farmstead and teamster inn being restored as an1840s working farm museum. The museum has had support from over 2600 households from over 37 states to save and preserve the site. The dinner will be held at the historic Dunham Woods Riding Club in Wayne, IL. This setting is particularly appropriate as the Dunham Club is in the original farmhouse where Mark Dunham started his internationally prominent Percheron horse farm in 1861. His breeding of these heavy horses contributed to the incredible 19th century Midwestern agricultural production. Historically the Garfield family knew the Dunhams and that tie was continued in 1993, when Miss Jane Dunham bequeathed $150,000 to Garfield Farm Museum, honoring her late acquaintance, Miss Elva Ruth Garfield. Anyone interested in attending the dinner or awards ceremony should contact the museum at (630) 584-8485 or email


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