Historic Marker Matching Gift Initiative
The Museum launched a fundraising initiative during 2022 to complete projects identified below and we have more that can be done with additional donations. The total raised to date is just over $74,000.
For more information or to explore other ways to give contact Norris Porter, Director of Development.
This historic preservation initiative was made possible by generous out of state donors who made a $30,000 matching gift for refurbishment projects and new historical markers. These donors are also responsible for the gift that has allowed for the refurbishment of the WWII Memorial on the eastside of the Museum Square. This memorial was rededicated on Saturday, November 5th.
Following months of research and planning, the Museum has identified eleven initial projects, with a total estimated cost that exceeds $60,000, including:
Korea & Vietnam Memorial Bronze Markers (Southeast corner of Museum Square)
Local Amvets working with the Museum have added bronze markers to the southeast corner of the Museum Square to honor those McLean County soldiers that died in service during Korea and Vietnam.
The bronze tablets are mounted at a 45-degree angle on weather-resistant powder-coated poles for ease of reading. These markers were installed November 5th, 2022. With enough money being raised we have a vision to create a “Walk of Heroes” around the Museum Square with a web presence that talks about McLean County in specific conflicts and to raise up the stories of specific soldiers.
Kickapoo Stockade Marker Repair (East of LeRoy)
This marker was placed by the Historical Society in 1905 on the excavated location of the stockade wall of the Kickapoo. The stockade was part of the Grand Village of the Kickapoo. The Grand Village was approximately a mile square radius and is located Northeast of current-day LeRoy, IL.
The marker was repaired in 2022 and the 35’ x 35’ parcel the marker sits on was recently co-deeded with the Kickapoo Tribe in Kansas. Now the Kickapoo own a very small piece of their ancestral land.
Kickapoo Memorial Boulder Relocation (West Park near LeRoy)
This memorial boulder was placed at the site of the Grand Village of the Kickapoo in 1998 when two acres of Native land were made available as a private Pow Wow Park in honor of the Kickapoo.
Working with the McLean County Board, the boulder was moved to West Park when new landowners expressed their intent to turn the park into farmland. West Park is a mile from the former Grand Village Park location and was part of the original 22-mile timber track that bordered the Grand Village area. No doubt the Kickapoo hunted in this area. Local laborers helped to move the boulder and It has now been pinned and reset on a concrete pad with a descriptive marker.
Kickapoo Roadside Marker (East of LeRoy)
We are seeking approval from the Road Commissioner in West Township to have a Kickapoo road sign marker placed at the crossroad of 3100E and 750N. West Park sits on road 750N, and the intersection is a ¼ mile from West Park. Looking northeast from this intersection you can see the stockade marker.
A road marker at this location would share the story of the stockade/Grand Village, and why the Historical Society placed the stockade marker in 1905.
Kickapoo State of Illinois Historic Marker (West Park near LeRoy)
To replace the original marker that was at the Grand Village Park, this marker was expanded to the larger 250-word marker and tells more of the Kickapoo story and references the location in West Park. The dedication was held on June 22, 2023.
Civil War Memorial Remnant Descriptive Marker (Briarwood subdivision)
A remnant of the original Civil War Monument for McLean County was moved to the Briarwood subdivision in December of 1914. The original monument was built and placed in Franklin Park but had to be torn down due to deterioration and safety concerns.
The remnant has no signage indicating what it is and why it is in Briarwood. A marker is in production that we are hopeful to dedicate in September/October of 2023.
Simon Malone Marker (Normal)
This marker was dedicated on July 20, 2023, and is located on the southeast corner of Kingsley Jr. High. Simon Malone was an early African American homeowner in Normal. The house was built in 1865 and destroyed by fire in 1981. Read more about Simon Malone.
Looking for Lincoln Jesse Fell Marker (Normal)
The original sign was vandalized, and parts stolen. Partnering with the Town of Normal the replacement sign has been installed.
Booker T. Washington Home for Colored Children Marker (Bloomington)
The site identified and approved by the city actually sits on a portion of the original site of the home (the marker dedication will be August 3rd at 11:00 a.m.). Dates to 1918 as a segregated group home for underprivileged, impoverished, neglected, and unwanted children until the 1960s.
Originally the McLean County Home for Colored Children, it was chartered in 1920. In late 1935, construction began on a two-story, tile block and brick building. The two existing wood-frame buildings were torn down and the space converted into a playground.
In 1942 the home was renamed for Booker T. Washington, an African American leader who advocated a social philosophy of “self-reliance born of hard work.” The home’s most famous “graduate” is Sister Antona Ebo, a nun in the Franciscan Sister of Mary order.
Ebo’s mother died when she was four, and her illiterate father was of little help, so she and her siblings were sent to the Colored Home in Bloomington. A chance visit to St. Mary’s Church led to a passionate interest in Catholicism, and she eventually entered a convent in St. Louis. In March 1965, the 41-year-old Sister Ebo and five other nuns from their St. Louis order traveled to Selma, Ala., to support the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s historic march to Montgomery. “I am here because I am a Negro, a nun, a Catholic, and because I want to bear witness,” she said.
In the late 1960s, the Booker T. Washington Home merged with the Lucy Orme Morgan Home, a group home for white girls. In the early 1980s the Morgan-Washington Home combined with Victory Hall, a home for boys in Normal that had welcomed its first African American child in 1962.
Improvements to McLean County Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument (Miller Park)
Dedicated on Memorial Day, May 30, 1913, the McLean County Soldiers’, and Sailors’ Monument has been a landmark in the northeast corner of Miller Park for the past century.
The 78-foot tall, 52-ton structure lists the names of 6,053 local residents who served in the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Black Hawk War, Mexican War, Civil War and Spanish-American War, on eight bronze tablets.
The bronze tablets are located inside of a four-legged, arched base that is topped by a 5-6 story-tall column. On top of the column is a Union soldier in bronze bearing the flag of the Republic. Two bronze Union soldiers stand on the base of the monument, including a Union infantry soldier with a rifle that faces east and Union cavalry soldier with field glasses and saber that faces west. This replaced the original Civil War monument that was in Franklin Park.
Age and weather have caused the mosaic tile floor to crack, and the bronze tablets need cleaning. Some graffiti needs removed as well. Our estimate is that this project will take at least $25,000. Discussions are on-going with the City of Bloomington to ascertain firm cost quotes and next steps.