GLEN ELLYN – Bobbi Wheatley believes that the 80-year-old McKee House needs to be preserved.
"I think it is a very historically relevant building," the Glen Ellyn resident said. "It's part of the historical corridor along St. Charles Road."
Wheatley attended a meeting on Aug. 18 organized by the McKee Preservation Group, which is commitment to restoring and giving an adaptive reuse to the limestone building. The house was constructed in 1936 for the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County.
The building is located on the Glen Ellyn-Lombard border in Churchill Woods and has been vacant since 2002. Forest Preserve District staff members have recommended the building be razed because of the high cost to repair it.
The McKee Preservation Group is circulating a petition against the demolition of the building. The petition states the house should be preserved for its "historic, architectural, cultural and aesthetic importance."
"The [Forest Preserve] commissioners need to be better stewards of the property they own, or they will get booted out," Wheatley said.
Wheatley signed the group's petition as well as others attending the meeting, including Glen Ellyn resident Karen Parkinson, who also thinks the McKee House should be preserved and reused.
"I feel there are a lot of uses for it," Parkinson said. "I think the ambiance of the location would enhance the event."
Forest Preserve District of DuPage County commissioner Tim Whelan wants to build support – and funds – for preserving the McKee House.
Whelan said he would like to garner $10 donations from 5,000 people – totaling $50,000 – which would be used toward the building's preservation.
"I feel like my board will speak to me if there is a groundswell of support, along with funds," he has said.
McKee Preservation Group member Andrew Van Gorp said he would like to see the McKee House used as a bicycle way station to serve the bike trails in the area.
The meeting was held in the Glen Ellyn Park District's Lake Ellyn Boathouse, which was built in 1937 as a Works Progress Administration project and was recently restored.
In July, Glen Ellyn Park District Board of Commissioners President Jay Kinzler wrote a letter to Forest Preserve District of DuPage County President Joe Cantore stating that while the Park District is not in a position to contribute capital funding towards repairs and restoration of the McKee House, "we certainly value historic assets and believe the McKee House is worthy of saving if at all possible."
In the letter, Kinzler said the Park District would consider using the McKee House for programming opportunities if it was preserved.
Glen Ellyn Park Board Commissioner Kathy Cornell said that one of the possible uses for the building could be as an outdoor learning lab.
"It is a terrific setting," Cornell said.
Glen Ellyn Historic Preservation Commissioner John Schreiber also expressed a desire to save the building and reuse it.
"The beauty of the building is special,"Schreiber said. "It was designed to blend with the natural environment around it...It is all handcrafted. Our goal is to make this building whole and open to the public for public use."
More information about the McKee Preservation Group is at its Facebook page at @SavetheMcKeeHouse.