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Garfield Farm Museum Challenged by $115,000 Jeffris Family Foundation Restoration Grant in $345,000 Campaign

CAMPTON HILLS,IL-    The Jeffris Family Foundation of Janesville, WI has challenged Garfield Farm Museum of Campton Hills, IL to raise $230,000 to fully restore its oldest building, the 1842 hay and grain barn. The Foundation will match every dollar given with 50 cents for the building’s long term restoration and preservation.

    In a state whose entire history is intimately intertwined with the success of agriculture, Illinois has been sorely lacking in preserving and presenting this history to its citizens and youngest generations. After 38 years since its founding, the non-profit Garfield Farm Museum is greatly encouraged by the Jeffris Family Foundation to continue the museum’s quest to restore all of its historic farm structures. With the neighboring Edward Garfield/Mongerson Brothers Farmstead, the museum has a total over 16 historic buildings dating from 1842 to c.1940.

     The 1842 barn was the first barn Timothy Garfield built after purchasing the 440 acre claim in July 1841 from Sam Culbertson, the farm’s first settler. According to barn historian and restorer, Rick Collins of Trillium Dell Timberworks, the barn’s design methods arise from nearly 1500 years or more of building history and are of Anglo-Saxon origin. As Timothy Garfield was additionally a surveyor by trade, the barn’s proportions are based on the rod i.e. 16.5 feet. These first prairie farms in Illinois raised wheat as their principle cash crop. Shipped out of Chicago by lake boats to the Erie Canal and then New York City, the wheat was bound for a global market. This barn sheltered sheaves of wheat, oats, and barley, with a mow for hay as the grains waited threshing for shipment.

    The barn has a most unusual history as it was moved in 1864 up the hill where a walk in cellar had been dug into the hillside. Rolled onto the foundation as a bank barn, it then could house dairy cattle below and still hold grain and hay above. In 1906, a large Wisconsin style dairy barn was built so in 1911 the 1842 barn was moved to its present day location and converted to a machine shed with a corn crib added in the 1930s. As archaeology has not yet revealed its original 1842 location, the barn will be restored where it sits. Future discoveries may result in the barn’s relocation.

   To apply for this $115,000 challenge grant from the Jeffris Family Foundation, the museum had to first commission a historic structures report that was half funded by the Jeffris Foundation. This report accessed the existing conditions and then proposed the proper methods of restoration of the building. As the entire farm is on the National Register of Historic Places, it furthered the chance for funding.

   Although the museum has until June of 2016 to raise all the funds, other funders have a shorter timeline for spending any granted funds.  This and the seasonality of building is critical. Archaeological investigations by Heartland Archaeology Research Program headed James Yingst   were conducted this summer to prevent any delay in construction. As fall tends to be a drier time for earthwork, the barn could be jacked up 3 feet off the ground to remove the existing foundation and install a new foundation with a footing. Over the winter, timber needed for the beams and siding could be harvested and hewn or milled so it will be ready for spring restoration. On such a time table, it is possible for restoration to be completed by June of 2015.

   This timetable is tight but the great news is the museum has raised over half of the funds and any donations of pledges payable by July of 2015 would release the $115,000 grant once the $230,000 is pledged or raised. Pledges allow donors to give funds over a period of time or at a future date. Ideally, construction would be well completed before the barn’s 175th anniversary so appropriate celebrations can be planned for 2017.

    The Jeffris Family Foundation Challenge Grant is particularly noteworthy as the foundation is one of very few in the country that funds building restoration. The Jeffris Family Foundation has established the Jeffris Heartland Fund, to support the development of important historic preservation projects that strive for high preservation standards and show a strong degree of local support in the states of Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin. "I have witnessed many small organizations and local governments in Wisconsin that struggle to support and preserve historic buildings that have given their communities a sense of place," stated Thomas M. Jeffris President of the Jeffris Family Foundation. “The Jeffris Family Foundation has a commitment to assist dedicated communities with funding opportunities designed to preserve their architectural heritage for future generations.”

    The foundation has helped successfully fund the restoration of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Seth Peterson Cottage, Mirror Lake, Wisconsin, Lew Wallace Study in Crawfordsville, Indiana, and Edwards Place in Springfield, Illinois.
    Garfield Farm and Tavern Museum is a 375 acre historically intact former Illinois prairie farmstead and teamster inn being restored as an 1840s working farm and inn museum. Since 1977, over 3800 households from over 37 states have contributed in excess of $10,000,000 and tens of thousands of hours of labor to preserve and restore the farm. The museum is located 5 miles west of Geneva, IL of ILL Rt. 38 on Garfield Road. Donations to restore the barn can be sent to Garfield Farm Museum P.O.Box 403 LaFox, IL 60147 or online at Further information is available at (630) 584-8485 or email