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updated: 1/14/2014 1:54 PM

Forest preserve may seek grant to help repair historic Oak Brook mansion

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  • The DuPage County Forest Preserve District might seek $215,000 in state grant money to help restore part of the exterior of Mayslake Hall in Oak Brook. The district is using the historic mansion as an educational center.

      The DuPage County Forest Preserve District might seek $215,000 in state grant money to help restore part of the exterior of Mayslake Hall in Oak Brook. The district is using the historic mansion as an educational center.
    Daily Herald file photo


A project identified as "the highest priority" for the continued restoration of Mayslake Hall in Oak Brook could proceed if the DuPage County Forest Preserve District secures a $215,000 grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Forest preserve commissioners are scheduled to decide next week whether the district will apply for the money through the IDNR's Illinois State Museums Capital Grant Program. If the grant application is approved, the district can restore part of the exterior of the historic mansion in Mayslake Forest Preserve.

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District officials say the estimated $525,000 project is a top priority because it would stop further deterioration of the building envelope, which protects areas inside the 39-room mansion that already have been restored.

"This is an important project simply to be able to conserve the restoration work that has already taken place inside the hall," said David Guritz, director of the district's office of education.

Mayslake Hall is a Tudor Revival-style mansion that coal baron Francis Stuyvesant Peabody built between 1919 and 1921. After Peabody's death in 1922, his family sold the estate to the Franciscan Province of the Sacred Heart Order of Friars Minor, which converted the mansion into a retreat house.

Through the years, the order sold sections of the estate. The forest preserve district bought the remaining 88 acres of the Mayslake property in 1993 after taxpayers approved a $17.5 million tax increase. Since then, the Mayslake Peabody Estate has consumed millions of additional dollars for capital improvements.

Currently, Mayslake Hall is being used as an educational center with architectural tours, lectures and artistic performances throughout the year.

District officials estimate it will cost between $6 million to $8 million to fully restore the mansion. So far, about $1.5 million in work has been completed.

The proposed $525,000 project would focus on restoring the exterior of the courtyard elevation located at the rear of the building.

The project would include repointing the brick, limestone and chimneys and restoring the exterior stucco and woodwork. Windows would be restored or replaced and copper scuppers and downspouts would be repaired.

Officials are recommending the work be done before the district pursues other improvements to the building.

Future improvements planned for the house include restoring the first-floor dining room and breakfast porch. A sleeping porch also could be restored. The plan is to complete new projects as additional funding becomes available.

As for the proposed exterior work, officials are hoping to raise at least $100,000 in charitable donations to help pay for the project's total cost. Still, the district would need to commit roughly $210,000 of its own money for the work to start in summer 2015.

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