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Article posted: 2/12/2013 6:04 PM

Study of historic DuPage house planned

By Robert Sanchez

The DuPage Forest Preserve Commission is planning to seek a second opinion on how much it would cost to restore a historic building at Churchill Woods Forest Preserve.

Forest preserve staff previously determined it would cost between $350,000 and $750,000 to fix the McKee House and another structure at the preserve along St. Charles Road near Glen Ellyn.

But with preservationists hoping to raise money to save the buildings, commissioners say they want to get another estimate from an architectural firm.

"The basis of the study is to get these people who are interested a real good view of what this is going to cost," forest preserve President D. Dewey Pierotti said Tuesday.

The board next week is expected to approve a plan to spend money originally set aside to demolish the buildings to pay for the new study. Officials would seek price quotes from several architectural firms before selecting one to do the work.

While forest preserve commissioners said they don't want district money spent repairing the buildings, preservationists say the study is a positive step.

"You don't want to go to donors and ask them to donate when they're hearing about demolition," said Linda Gilbert, president of the Citizens for Glen Ellyn Preservation.

The district was going to demolish the Depression-era house -- constructed for Robert McKee, the forest preserve district's first superintendent -- and the second building until 2006, when the DuPage Housing Authority signed a lease for the property. However, the housing authority's plans for the site never materialized.

Gilbert said there had been renewed fears about the buildings being razed. Now the study has Gilbert hopeful the structures will be properly restored.

"An assessment will make sure that we do work in the right order," Gilbert said, "and we'll do the work that has to be done right away."

Pierotti said a final decision about the fate of the buildings won't be made until after the study is completed and preservationists decide if they can raise enough money to pay for the restoration.

"If they come back and say this is not viable," Pierotti said, "then we'll make a decision about which way we're going to go."

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