The Mount Prospect Historical Society has kicked off a four-year campaign to raise funds to restore the village's most historic building -- Central School -- by announcing that its 22-member board has pledged $30,000.
The board's pledge was announced Thursday night when representatives of local civic groups, society members and top donors to the schoolhouse effort gathered at Blackfinn American Grille in Randhurst Village to hear details of the restoration plan from Greg Peerbolte, executive director of the society.
The society estimates it will need $129,000 to complete the adaptive restoration of the 1896 building, which was moved to its current location at 103 S. Maple St. in May 2008 after a six-year campaign to raise $250,000 to relocate the building.
"We were gratified by the turnout of our supporters and by their enthusiasm for the plan," Peerbolte said in a news release.
When Mount Prospect celebrates its centennial in 2017, it hopes to begin the year with a re-enactment of the town fathers' signing of the papers of incorporation in Central School, the site where it actually took place in 1917, Peerbolte told the gathering at Randhurst.
Society leaders have developed a timeline for the work and a corresponding timeline for fundraising in order to complete the restoration on time. It involves raising about $30,000 each year, with about a quarter of that supplied by the board's pledge.
"This commitment by the board sends a powerful message to the community," Arlene Juracek, board president, said in a news release. "We believe in the importance of the Central School to the village and in the success of this effort. We hope our commitment will inspire others to join us with dollars and in-kind service to complete the work plan in time for the centennial celebration."
The school was built by one of the village's founders, William Wille. It housed the first public school in Mount Prospect, at the time a small, mainly agricultural community. It was also the first home of the Mount Prospect Public Library, Mount Prospect Elementary District 57 (it was the first school in Illinois to cross township lines, with one foot in Elk Grove and another in Wheeling), the fire department, three local churches (St. John's, St. Paul Lutheran and South), the women's club and even the first movie screen.
"It has been stated that the Central School is our Independence Hall, and I could not agree more," said Peerbolte. "In addition to the signing of the village charter in 1917, it has been home to almost a dozen of Mount Prospect's long-standing community, civic, religious and charitable institutions. I couldn't think of a more fitting and proper way to mark Mount Prospect's centennial than opening the building to the public at its new permanent home on the historical society's museum campus."
The first step of the work will be to reinforce the floor so that it can safely accommodate large numbers of people, a task estimated to cost $16,000.
With board members having dug deep for seed money, Peerbolte said, "it is up to the residents, businesses, clubs and schoolchildren of Mount Prospect to quickly join this effort and help us get the school completed and open."
To contribute or get information, go to yourcentralschool.org or phone (847) 392-9006.