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Old 12-02-2008, 02:44 PM
 
296 posts, read 1,072,747 times
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Well, I was planning on visiting the Dana-Thomas house this weekend, but that trip is off now. Shame--one of the state's better historical/architectural gems. From the SJR:


Christmas won't come to the Dana-Thomas House this year, as volunteers and visitors alike paid teary goodbyes and watched the doors close at 4 p.m. Sunday.

The Dana-Thomas House is one of 12 state historic sites that are closing today in accordance with budget cutbacks announced in August by Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

The cuts at the Dana-Thomas House affected about 120 volunteers, reducing the site's staff to its manager, Don Hallmark, who will be the only person on hand to ensure the building's custodianship.

Volunteers turned in their keys between 4 and 5 p.m. Sunday, many wondering aloud whether they would ever step foot inside the home again.

Kathy Liesman, who had volunteered at the Dana-Thomas House for 19 years, made the rounds throughout the house one last time, sweeping the floors in what would be her last caretaking duty before the home closed indefinitely.

As she said goodbye to her fellow volunteers and turned in her keys shortly before 5 p.m., she could no longer restrain the tears she had fought back all day.

"It's been very emotional, to say the least," she said. "I kind of feel like I'm in a dream and I'm going to wake up and this is not happening. I never dreamed that I would see this house close."

The cauldron of frustration, confusion, sadness and even anger at the governor's decision spilled over after weeks of knowing the day was coming

Gayle Manning, a volunteer since 2005, was trying to soak it all in as she walked alone through the house as the final tour approached its end. Stopping periodically to gaze upon the unique Frank Lloyd Wright-designed features, she too admitted it was difficult not to be emotional.

"You don't shut down a historical place that brings in money," she said. "It's politically vindictive, is what it is...If you don't know where you've been, how will you ever know where you're going? To shut this 104-year-old house down, period, it just is ridiculous."

Among the cancellations are the Dana-Thomas House's popular holiday events.

"I dropped in (Saturday) because I had to come," said Mike Anderson, a folk musician and dulcimer player who has performed at the house every December since 1981. "I've seen all these people for years. If you putt all the days together that we've known each other, it probably doesn't equal two months, but it's been 27 years."

Anderson performed one last concert Sunday, saying he felt as if he was playing for a funeral.

"I'm close to tears right now, they're just right there," he said. "I'm extremely sad."

Visitors, too, were upset at the house's closing.

"This is a tragedy and an embarrassment for the state of Illinois," said Springfield resident Jill Debrey.

Debbie Downing, from Tarpon Springs, Fla., said she visits the home regularly while visiting Springfield relatives.

"I heard it was the last day and it's really sad," she said. "I love coming here at Christmas time, and I was looking forward to it again this year."

The Dana-Thomas House, 301 E. Lawrence Ave., was remodeled by Frank Lloyd Wright between 1902 and 1904 with the concept of expanding space throughout the structure, which includes 16 major public rooms and 25 large and small spaces. It is considered one of the most elaborate of Wright's houses in terms of size, detailing, art glass and furnishings.

Susan Lawrence Dana paid $45,000 for the construction and an additional $15,000 for the Wright-designed furnishings. She lived in the house from 1904 until about 1928

Charles C. Thomas, a medical publisher, bought the house in 1944. The Thomas firm operated in the building until the state of Illinois bought the house in August 1981 for $1 million.

Hallmark said managing the site alone won't be an easy task.

"We've got five pairs of eyes to see how the house is doing, and if somebody sees something that is suspicious, they can investigate it," he said. "Then they'll report to me and we'll decide whether it's something we can do ourselves to fix it or do we need to hire someone to come in and repair whatever the problem is."

"When you reduce the number of watchful eyes protecting the site from five pairs down to one, that person is going to have to be more vigilant."

Dana-Thomas House history

* 1902-1904 built and remodeled by Frank Lloyd Wright
* 1904-1928 Susan Lawrence Dana lives in the house
* 1928-1943 Susan Lawrence Dana lives in a white cottage just west of the house
* 1944-1981 Charles C. Thomas,.medical publisher, owns the house
* 1981 State of Illinois buys the home for $1 million

Annual holiday events at the Dana-Thomas House that will not take place this year

* Family night, Dec. 21
* The Night of Luminaries, Dec. 23
* Children's story hour, Dec. 27
* Christmas at the Dana-Thomas House, Nov. 29-Dec. 31

State historic sites closed in addition to the Dana-Thomas House

* Black Hawk, Rock Island: Hauberg Indian Museum, will be half-closed
* Lincoln Log Cabin, near Charleston
* For de Chartres, Prairie du Rocher
* Vandalia Statehouse, Vandalia
* Bishop Hill Museum, Colony Church and Bjorklund Hotel
* Carl Sandburg Home, Galesburg
* Cahokia Courthouse, Cahokia
* Jubilee College, near Brimfield
* Apple River Fort, Elizabeth
* Fort Kaskaskia, Ellis Grove
* Pierre Menard Home, Ellis Grove
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Old 12-02-2008, 02:56 PM
 
Location: Not where you ever lived
11,544 posts, read 25,924,965 times
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Bummer. I'm not surprised about Jubilee College, but I am surprised about Bishop Hill. Dickson Mounds Indian Museum is still open as is Jake Wolfe fish hatchery, I think the wild animal park outside of Peoria is still open, I belive thee is a Frank Lloyd Wright house in Oak Park but I don't know if it is private of public. It's a tough economy. Utilities and repairs on 100 year old houses are expensive to maintain. The Reagan prsidential museum and library in Eureka isn't state owned but ti is nice day trip and the Chanticleer restaurant has some pretty good food and reasonable prices. ,
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Old 12-02-2008, 03:11 PM
 
296 posts, read 1,072,747 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by linicx View Post
Utilities and repairs on 100 year old houses are expensive to maintain. The Reagan prsidential museum and library in Eureka isn't state owned but ti is nice day trip and the Chanticleer restaurant has some pretty good food and reasonable prices. ,
The house is a good revenue generator and I'm assuming utilities and repairs will still be paid for. They aren't tearing it down, just closing it-- which makes about zero sense from a money-saving standpoint since most of the staff is volunteer.

I live in Eureka so I would agree with you about EC. Chanticleer is good, but honestly not what it used to be. Lakeview Family Restaurant is under new ownership and has good greasy spoon food. Rocco's and Peking Garden are also great small town eateries.

Do come visit, we don't have any state supported sites in town.
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Old 12-02-2008, 03:18 PM
 
Location: IL
2,992 posts, read 4,406,882 times
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I tried to find somewhere to show how much $$ the state saves by closing down the facility, but I didn't have any luck. I was just curious.

But, this is another example of government's inability to run a business. In private hands, with a proper business plan I bet this home could be a $$ maker.
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Old 12-02-2008, 03:28 PM
 
Location: Not where you ever lived
11,544 posts, read 25,924,965 times
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I lived in a 100 year old origianl custom built Craftsman bungalow that had the original shake shingles that were covered with compossiton shinges. Roofing estimate was $20k. Utilites averaged $600 per mo year round despite 12" thick walls. And this was in MO on the OK border, It will cost twice that in Spfld, and that doesn't count security or paid day staff. The point is I can understand why they might weigh income vs winter cost. No US state government with a large population is fiscally sound I don't think.
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Old 12-02-2008, 03:30 PM
 
Location: Lake Arlington Heights, IL
5,481 posts, read 10,374,229 times
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Quote:
But, this is another example of government's inability to run a business. In private hands, with a proper business plan I bet this home could be a $$ maker.
he**, the entire park system could generate a lot more money if they just entered the 21st century. Make majority of all camp-sites in all parks reservable. Not just the small portion there currently is. Provide a modern, internet site for previewing and reserving camp-sites, like they do in MI,WI and IN. Current system is antiquated and frustrating. This can be done through a 3rd party like the other states. Charge entry fee or for a yearly pass for ALL residents. Doesn't have to be huge $. Charge more for out-of-state visitors. Charge for trail passes. Again, all things our neighboring states do. Perhaps many more of the campers in the Metro Chicago area will camp in IL instead of camping out of state. Wouldn't that help revenues? But then again, I doubt "pretty boy" Blago is a camper or a state park type. Maybe its better. He would probably take the extra revenue and siphon it off for other uses instead of re-investing in the parks.
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Old 12-02-2008, 04:00 PM
 
Location: Phoenix, AZ
3,088 posts, read 4,669,241 times
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Bummer about the Dana - Thomas House. I visited there in September, and was impressed with the sheert "Frank Lloyd Wright-ism" of the place! Very interesting architecture! Mind you, I'm not at all sure I would like to live there. . . .
Hopefully Obama's plan to assist the states will bring some relief for this and other parks, museums and cultural sites both in Illinois and elsewhere.
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Old 12-02-2008, 05:32 PM
 
Location: Maryland
4,232 posts, read 5,440,907 times
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That's a shame as the Dana-Thomas House is just absolutely gorgeous during Christmas time:

Dana Thomas House - Holiday Schedule/Christmas (http://www.dana-thomas.org/christmas.htm - broken link)
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Old 12-03-2008, 09:23 AM
 
365 posts, read 1,128,760 times
Reputation: 252
I am sick about these state park closings. State parks, of all things! My ancestors farmed in the area around the Bishop Hill historical sites, and I grew up just 3 miles from there. I go to Bishop Hill every time I go back to western IL. Just last week, as a matter of fact, Bishop Hill was packed with tourists. I'm not exaggerating: There was no place to park. But the Old Colony Church, which the state managed, was looking so sad. It's been closed for a while, I guess, and it needs painting and repair.

The church was a center point of the historical site. After all, the Swedes came to IL to find religious freedom. That point has escaped Blago, I guess.

Closing Bishop Hill feels like a death in my family. When I was growing up, most of the people in my town and a good portion of the folks in the Quad Cities were of Swedish descent, many of them directly descended from the Bishop Hill settlers. (I remember some of the elderly Swedes still didn't speak English very well.) I spent so much time there growing up. It felt more like my hometown than my real hometown. Bishop Hill represents the history of an entire culture in this state, and, as the OP said, you need to know the past to keep a stable future.

Not to trivialize the other sites, by any means; it's just that Bishop Hill was such a large part of my life, as were the Blackhawk sites, which are spread all over that part of the state. And DH and I just visited Fort du Chartres for the first time about two years ago; I'm not sure there are that many old French sites left in the state, are there? And the Lincoln log cabin???? I'm just heartbroken. I hope there's a way to get this restored.
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Old 12-03-2008, 02:09 PM
 
Location: Lake Arlington Heights, IL
5,481 posts, read 10,374,229 times
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Quote:
I hope there's a way to get this restored.
Yes. Remember this in 2010 when elections are held. Perhaps it's time for a down-state, Republican with good fiscal skills to be elected instead of a Chicago machine Democrat. Heck, both parties have sent governors to prison, maybe rash action is required...like voting Libertarian.
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