GLEN ELLYN – Members of a nonprofit group have the goal of raising $65,000 this spring for a much-needed roof for the 82-year-old McKee House in the Churchill Woods Forest Preserve as part of an effort to preserve and restore the historic limestone building.
"At this point, one of the most important things we can do with regard to the preservation of the house is to get the roof replaced to stabilize it," said Roberta Wheatley of Glen Ellyn, a board member for the McKee Preservation Group Inc. "The house structurally is perfectly sound, but with the roof being a problem, our initial goal is to raise $65,000 to replace the roof and to do a restoration of the entry door. The first phase is to get the building stabilized, and then the next phase will be to do interior work."
Wheatley said there is great interest in restoring the building and noted it could be used for a variety of purposes.
"This could be a focal point in that preserve," she said.
The McKee House was built in 1936 as a Works Progress Administration project. The WPA program was a federal assistance program designed to put unemployed Americans back to work during the Great Depression.
It originally functioned as a forest preserve headquarters and Superintendent Robert McKee’s residence in the Churchill Woods Forest Preserve. The house is on the Glen Ellyn-Lombard border, and it has been vacant since 2002. District staff members had recommended the building be razed because of the high cost to repair it.
Last year, the nonprofit group Landmarks Illinois announced the inclusion of the McKee House on its 2017 list of the most endangered historic places in Illinois. There is a new effort to restore the building after Glen Ellyn village officials in 2017 approved a lease agreement between the village and the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, which owns the limestone building.
As part of the lease agreement, the village will start leasing the McKee House on April 1, 2019, for a 50-year term. The village also will begin leasing the maintenance building property at Churchill Woods when the district vacates the property.
Village Manager Mark Franz previously told Glen Ellyn trustees the maintenance property – which consists of two attached buildings – could be used to meet the village's salt and general storage needs. The agreement states if the village or a third party is not able to raise $400,000 by Oct. 1, 2019, and restore and get an occupancy permit by Oct. 1, 2022, Glen Ellyn will demolish the property at its own expense.
The village and Forest Preserve District will contribute $25,000 each to help in the restoration efforts if sufficient funds are raised, the agreement states. The cost to raze the McKee House is estimated to be between $30,000 and $50,000.
The cost to stabilize the house is estimated to be $230,000, and renovating the structure is estimated to cost anywhere from $1.3 million to $2 million. The property is located within the village limits of Lombard. Glen Ellyn plans to annex the property by April 1, 2019.
Contributions to McKee Preservation Group Inc. are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. Donations can be sent to P.O. Box 44, Glen Ellyn, IL 60138. More information is available on the group's Facebook page.
The group is also seeking volunteers. Those who would like to help can contact the group by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to help
Contributions to McKee Preservation Group Inc. can be sent to P.O. Box 44, Glen Ellyn, IL 60138. More information is available on the group's Facebook page. Those who would like to volunteer with the group can email email@example.com.