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Illinois Public Museum Capital Grant will fund repairs at Ellwood House

Published: Monday, June 16, 2014 11:35 p.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, June 16, 2014 11:49 p.m. CDT

DeKALB – Flowers reminiscent of days gone by will bloom at the Ellwood House mansion after a grant from the state is put to work.

Gov. Pat Quinn announced Saturday that 47 Illinois museums, including the Ellwood House Museum, 509 N. First St., will receive funds to improve facilities as part of the Illinois Public Museum Capital Grants Program.

The Ellwood House, former mansion of barbed wire baron Isaac Ellwood, received $126,400 to replace the flat roof, terrace tile and liftbox of the mansion, as well as add more informational signage. Flowers and plants will be added around the base of the mansion to match historic photos, said Brian Reis, Ellwood House Museum executive director.

"We're going to plant flowers from the 1912-1915 time period so the house will look like it did when it was first built," Reis said.

The terrace tile, some of which are cracked or missing, will be replaced at the top of the stairs to the mansion. The flat roof of the mansion, although not visible to visitors, needs to be redone every few decades, Reis said.

This is the third year the Ellwood House has received this grant. In the past, sidewalks, light posts and signage were added. The water tower was also restored last year using state grants.

"The grants are wonderful and help with our restoration," Reis said. "The projects will be covered by the grant. We are glad the state understands the value of these projects."

The Ellwood House was the only museum in DeKalb County to receive funds, and fifteen other counties received funds from the $20 million investment, according to a governor's news release. The funds are associated with Quinn's Illinois Jobs Now! program to create jobs and push forward the state's economy, according to the news release.

The Ellwood House Association, which is a nonprofit organization, works in conjunction with the DeKalb Park District. Brad Garrison, Ellwood House board of directors member and superintendent of parks and development, helped Reis prepare the grant proposal and said he looks forward to the projects starting. Reis will meet with the park district to determine the timeline for the projects.

"We're really excited," Garrison said. "[The park district has] a great relationship with the Ellwood House."

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