We are undergoing phase one of a major renovation project. The horseshoe stairway leading to the east entrance portico is being temporarily removed. We are starting a fundraising effort to restore the stairway and the home’s iconic wrap-around porch.
“This renovation is about keeping everyone safe,” said Site Manager Dan Irvin. “Despite years of careful maintenance, the porch has many weak spots. The stairs are blocked off with chains and signs, but we’ve had issues with trespassers and vandals. We can’t risk someone ignoring the warnings and climbing up.”
This is not the first porch rebuild the historic landmark has undergone. The original porch failed in the early 1900s. The house remained without a porch until 1998, when it was rebuilt as part of a $5 million exterior restoration project. But neither the original nor the rebuild were designed to allow adequate drainage, causing rain water to pool and cause damage.
“Our designation as a National Historic Landmark places restrictions on the type of renovations we can do. We need to stay true to the history of the house, which is why the 1998 porch rebuild had some of the same design flaws as the original,” said Irvin. “We’ve learned a lot from the older designs. This rebuild will have the same look as the original with some hidden features to keep it safe and stable for a very long time.”
Landmarks Illinois, a nonprofit historic preservation group, holds an easement on the property. The organization has signed off on the work. Now, the challenge will be raising the money. The porch project will cost roughly $1.1 million. When finished, the porch will once again be available for community and private events, weddings, and photo shoots.
“This house serves our community and draws new people in with educational events, summer concerts, celebrations, and tours. Travelers come to LaSalle to visit the mansion, and they stay to eat at local restaurants and visit our downtown shops,” said Tour Director Tricia Kelly. “We need the support of donors to restore the wrap-around porch as a unique focal point and historic gathering place.”
Donate on our website, mail in your donation (1370 7th St, LaSalle IL 61301), or donate in person during regular mansion hours. We are a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and donations are tax deductible.