By SAMANTHA PIDDE
Less than two years ago, the Mount Carroll Stone House property stood in ruin, with one wall of the historic home having collapsed.
Today, committee members involved in its recent restoration expect the property to soon be a beautiful park and historic site, complete with landscaping and period-specific plants, such as prairie grass.
"What a nice entrance to our town," said Friend of the Stone House member Len Anderson. "It's going to be a beautiful park.”
Volunteers Len and Linda Anderson, Nancy Gmitro and Chris Rogers began working with the City of Mount Carroll on renovating the Stone House in the fall of 2018. The group's goal was to stabilize the structure and restore it to how it looked in the 1840s.
During the past year-and-a-half, the group has collected many donations, allowing Rogers and other volunteers to re-build the front wall, insert windows, create a front porch, build a secure walk-way inside and much more. This past December, the Stone House was one of the locations for the annual Mount Carroll Christmas Tour of Homes.
Last week Anderson confirmed that Mount Carroll native Jim Kalina of K&G Landscaping in Sterling was at the property with his crew, completing landscaping of the yard.
By Wednesday, May 6, the crew had completed landscaping behind the house, including leveling, terracing and scalloping the area to make it look nice. Kalina and his workers also added drainage on the property and were working on sowing grass seed.
Anderson said the city has been helping with the project, with city crews bringing several loads of dirt to help with the landscaping project. He added that Kalina has completed several City of Mount Carroll projects and works well with the city workers.
While the landscaping is handled, Rogers has been inside the house, working on the windows and interior woodwork. Rogers also has carved out a walking trail through the woods in the back of the property.
Anderson said that once Kalina and his crew are done with the landscaping in the next week or so, Gmitro will begin planting 1840s-style plants. Gmitro is asking anyone with plants to donate to call her at 815-244-4090.
Volunteers also have ordered a sign from Compliance Signs in Chadwick, which will be erected once the landscaping is finished and the period covered wagon, commissioned by the group last year, has been moved to its permanent location on higher ground.
"We're getting closer to completion," Anderson said.
The project has been funded through public donations and Anderson said additional funding is coming is still being received. He hopes to have enough to pay for the last few additions to the property, but said the group is grateful to any funds people are able to donate, especially during these difficult times.
Once most of the work is completed, the group plans to place two or three picnic tables on the property for public use.
"It's going to be beautiful when it's done," Anderson said.
Anyone wanting to donate to the Stone House project may do so at the Andersons' business, Ideas N' Designs, 116 W. Market St., Mount Carroll, IL 61053.
Checks should be made out to the City of Mount Carroll for the Stone House Project. The Andersons can be reached at 815-244-7875.