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McKee House restoration efforts continue, public meeting Aug. 21

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013 12:24 a.m. CDT

GLEN ELLYN – Community members will soon know the initial findings of a study commissioned to determine how best to restore the historic McKee House, located in the Churchill Woods Forest Preserve in Glen Ellyn.

AltusWorks, Inc., the architectural design firm contracted by the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County to perform the study, will hold a public meeting Aug. 21 to present its findings and gather feedback about how the house should be used.

"We're more than happy to get over there and restate our strong support for this," said Linda Gilbert, the former president of Citizens for Glen Ellyn Preservation, who has been involved in efforts to save the house for several years.

The McKee House formerly served as the Forest Preserve District headquarters. It was built in 1936 and was named after the first district superintendent to live there, Robert McKee.

The structure has previously been used by the public and area preservationists hope it will again return to its community roots.

Commissioner Tim Whelan, who represents the area of the Forest Preserve District that includes the McKee House, said AltusWorks has already told the District Board of Commissioners that the building is structurally sound.

While the initial findings may include that information, they will mostly focus on how to restore the building in a historically accurate manner that accommodates public use, Whelan said.

Gilbert expects the work will include repairing the house's leaking roof and addressing interior damage caused by the leaks. The house has been vacant since 2002.

Both Gilbert and Whelan said they hope the firm will provide preliminary cost estimates for the necessary improvements.

The study was originally expected to take three to four months to complete, but AltusWorks is ahead of schedule with its initial findings. However, Whelan said he is unsure of when the Board of Commissioners can expect a finalized study from the firm.

After the public meeting, the firm will use public feedback to complete the study, which will include dividing the restoration into phases and determining more exact costs, Whelan said.

The study will then be presented to the commissioners, who will determine the Forest Preserve District's course of action, he said.

Based on the district's historical building preservation policy, future action will include evaluating how to fund the restoration, which must be mainly supported through fundraising efforts or grants, rather than the district's budget.

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