Nearly 1,000 sign petition to save McKee House at forest preserve

Preservationists say there's widespread support for saving the McKee House near Glen Ellyn.

To prove their point, they've collected nearly 1,000 signatures on a petition they soon plan to give to the building's owner — the DuPage County Forest Preserve District.

Members of the McKee Preservation Group announced the results of their petition drive during Tuesday night's forest preserve board meeting. They started circulating the petition in July after it was revealed the 80-year-old limestone house in Churchill Woods Forest Preserve was in jeopardy of being demolished.

The group is trying to convince forest preserve commissioners that the building along St. Charles Road should be restored and once again have a public use.

“They (forest preserve officials) have been wrong in thinking that it is just a small handful of people who want this,” said Linda Gilbert, a member of the McKee Preservation Group.

Gilbert said residents from throughout DuPage have signed the petition, which will be presented to the district when it reaches 1,000 signatures.

During Tuesday's meeting, several people asked commissioners to consider using the McKee House as a site for nature programs and summer camps.

“On behalf of ... many people that I've talked with in the community beyond Glen Ellyn, I hope that you will consider allowing us the opportunity to save the building,” said Kathy Cornell of Glen Ellyn

District staff members earlier this year recommended demolishing the house. The recommendation was made after an architectural and engineering firm evaluated the building in terms of cultural significance and general condition.

But it's up to commissioners to decide whether they want to raze the house, which has avoided destruction for least a decade.

A final vote by the board hasn't happened because officials are giving McKee House supporters time to find a use for the building.

Glen Ellyn resident Chris Wilson said people want the building to be saved because it's an important part of the forest preserve's history.

The McKee House was built in 1936 by the Works Progress Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps. Initially used by Robert McKee, the forest district's first superintendent, the building later became a guard house. But it's been vacant since 2002 and has fallen into disrepair.

Despite the damage, an architectural study in 2013 found the building to be structurally sound. Now there's debate over how much it could cost to repair the house.

In the meantime, the McKee Preservation Group is working to become a nonprofit organization so it can raise money to help pay for a new roof.

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