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updated: 7/8/2014 4:24 PM

DuPage forest preserve seeking donations for Mayslake project

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  • A $215,000 state grant will help the DuPage County Forest Preserve District pay for a proposed restoration of the rear courtyard of Mayslake Hall in Oak Brook.

    A $215,000 state grant will help the DuPage County Forest Preserve District pay for a proposed restoration of the rear courtyard of Mayslake Hall in Oak Brook.
    Courtesy of DuPage County Forest Preserve District


Despite a $215,000 state grant, the DuPage County Forest Preserve District needs another $310,000 to proceed with planned exterior restoration work at Mayslake Hall in Oak Brook.

On Tuesday, officials said the district has received about $75,800 in charitable donations for the project, which would restore the rear courtyard of the historic mansion in Mayslake Forest Preserve.

The hope is that continued fundraising efforts will further reduce the amount the district must pay for the work, which is scheduled to begin next summer.

"We will continue to raise funds for this project," said Janneke Fowers, Mayslake site manager. "How much more we will be able to raise ... of course, is always a question."

She said it's anticipated the district will get at least another $40,000 from private donors.

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

Fowers says poor initial material choices and inappropriate maintenance over the decades has resulted in damage to the outside of the building at the courtyard. The proposed project would correct those issues and prevent damage from spreading to the interior, she said.

"If we wouldn't move forward with this restoration project, there might be other costs involved than just securing the envelope of the building," Fowers said.

Built for coal baron Francis Stuyvesant Peabody, Mayslake Hall is a Tudor Revival-style mansion that was completed in 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.

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

It's estimated it will cost between $6 million and $8 million to fully restore the mansion. So far, about $1.5 million in work has been completed.

District officials say the proposed fixes to the rear courtyard include restoring and replacing stucco, windows, terra cotta chimney pots, copper gutters, carved wooden barge boards and a limestone portico.

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

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