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posted: 10/19/2016 1:00 AM

See McKee House for what it can be

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Will the legacy of the current forest preserve board be one demolition or preservation? Will posterity remember the current board for what they saved or what they destroyed? Will future boards be inspired by the current board's austerity or its stewardship?

These are the questions that will be answered as the current board deliberates the fate of the McKee House.

The McKee House served as the prior headquarters for the forest preserve district and as a residence for Robert McKee, its first superintendent. Following years of neglect, the building suffered significant structural damage. The current Board will have to decide whether to demolish the building or devote funds to repurpose it.

Some see the McKee House as a dinosaur that should be demolished because it's a drain on forrest preserve resources. Others see it as a fossil, imprinted with the soul of DuPage County. Constructed by the Work Progress Administration, its graceful Colonial Revival façade was erected with stone quarried from Salt Creek and timber harvested from boreal forest along the DuPage River. Still others see it as a monument to the foresight of Robert McKee. The Teddy Roosevelt of DuPage County, McKee had the vision to reserve thousands of acres our natural resources for the beneficial use of future generations; much of this open space is still enjoyed by current DuPage County residents.

As the current Board deliberates on the fate of the McKee House, they should not forget who they are. They are the forest preserve. They were elected to preserve, not destroy; to protect, not demolish; to safeguard our historical resources, not eradicate them. If they do, they will honor the proud legacy of their predecessors, they will gain the admiration of their constituents, and they will challenge future Boards to see not what is, but what can be.

Mark N. Senak

Chicago

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