Gifford Park Association donates $5,000 to Elgin Fire Barn Museum Memorial Plaza – Chicago Tribune
The Elgin Fire Barn No. 5 Museum is receiving a $5,000 donation from the Gifford Park Association, which is reaching out to help improve surrounding neighborhoods.
The funds will help pay for the Firefighters’ Memorial Plaza, located on the museum grounds at 533 St. Charles Street and under construction for more than 25 years, officials said.
It will include a wall to honor firefighters who have died in the line of duty and an area for the names of deceased firefighters who died off duty or retired, officials said. Additionally, an eight and a half foot tall bronze statue of a firefighter will be placed at the memorial.
“I think it’s going to be really nice,” Gifford Park Association spokeswoman Trish LaFleur said. “I think of it like the Old Main (the Elgin History Museum). The neighborhood came together to make it what it is today. The Fire Barn beautifies the neighborhood. The neighborhood should be proud and support their museum.
The association supports preservation through grants and monetary donations to restore historic landmarks throughout Elgin, LeFleur said. It also hosts home restoration events where association members share their time and expertise in historic preservation, she said.
Its signature event is the annual tour of the historic house, which generates funds for its programs, LaFleur said.
Due to the pandemic, the association’s activities were suspended for a few years, but “we are just trying to be more active by donating some of our funds,” she said.
“We are working on a lot of initiatives right now. We have just launched a new architectural grant program to help people restore architectural features to the exterior of their homes in the historic Gifford Park neighborhood,” LaFleur said. “We want to show the community what we do with the money we earn.”
The group also works with residents who live in the historic Elgin National Watch district and want to restart its neighborhood group. A group had been started several years ago in the Watch Historic District, LaFleur said.
“They have the basics,” she said, and Gifford Park guides them.
Residents of the historic Watch Street district were alarmed a few months ago when City Council asked staff to speak to landlords and businesses about the possibility of removing the designation or changing the layout to help low-income families who cannot afford expensive repairs. or renovations needed in a historic district.
“We want to try to associate with this group. We want to get exposure and help recruit new members, LaFleur said. “We wanted to show them our support and help them. This is how you support your neighborhood.
The Fire Barn Museum and its memorial can become the centerpiece of the historic district, she said.
“I think it’s going to be really beautiful,” LaFleur said. “I think of it as the Old Main. The neighborhood came together to make it what it is today. The Fire Barn beautifies the neighborhood. The neighborhood should be proud and support their museum.
The Elgin Fire Barn No. 5 Museum is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was the town’s first original fire barn, which housed horses and a firefighting car when it was built. After the station closed in 1991, the barn became a firefighter museum.
Gloria Casas is a freelance journalist for The Courier-News.