By SAMANTHA PIDDE
Work on the historic Stone House at the northern edge of Mount Carroll continues, with the outside almost completely finished.
"A lot of people have been stopping and looking," said Len Anderson, one of the volunteers spearheading the restoration project.
Last fall Nancy Gmitro, Len and Linda Anderson and Chris Rogers approached the City of Mount Carroll, asking if it would take ownership of the property from the CDC (Community Development Corporation) and work toward its restoration.
Council members unanimously approved the city assuming ownership during its Sept. 25, 2018 meeting. Since then a member of the group has attended almost every city council meeting to give updates on the project.
Built in the early 1840s, the Stone House, 107 W. State St., was the first house built from stone in the area and is one of the oldest remaining homes in the community. When the group approached the city last fall, the front wall of the house, which faces Illinois 78, was down and the property's appearance was not great.
Through the donation of funds and stone, local contractor Chris Rogers and others have completely repaired this wall, using the natural stream in the cellar of the home to mix the mortar for the stonework. Now the front door is in with new steps and all of the window frames have been added. Len Anderson said that soon all of the windows will be finished. The Mount Carroll Rotary is helping fund the cost of the new windows.
"We're to the home run soon," Anderson said.
Rogers and his crew currently are working on tuck-pointing the inside of the house, trying to keep as much of the original plaster as possible, which is a time-consuming process. he said.
Eventually the group hopes to have a walkway through the house (traveling from the back door to the front door). A donation of wood has been received for the walkway and Anderson said the group eventually will have some antique furniture set up inside the house.
"The key is to have everyone see everything from the landing," Rogers said.
With so much work done in less than a year, the group continues to work to make the property something of which the community can be proud.
The newest addition to the property is a vintage-style covered wagon that the group commissioned through Red's Antiques & Wholesales in Galena. The wagon will sit out front of the house.
The group brought the wagon to the downtown area during the July 20 Car Cruise to help raise more awareness and donations Rogers said the group received $104 in donations at the Car Cruise and they continue to seek donations.
With several phases of the project complete, the group still has many plans which will need funding. These include moving dirt and landscaping the front of the property, building and securing a walkway (with a railing) inside the house, sidewalks to the parking lot, exterior walkways, a possible walkway around the house, signs and more.
Gmitro also spoke at the most recent city council meeting about signage for the property, asking the proper procedure for naming the property and obtaining signs. She said the group would prefer to have it called "The Stone House Memorial Park. Mayor Carl Bates said he could help Gmitro with getting signs. Ald. Doug Bergren suggested they also consider adding the property to the historic trail.
Rogers also spoke briefly about his concern for people speeding on Illinois 78 near the house. He suggested the city think about possibly reducing the speed limit in that area.
Donations to the Stone House project may be dropped off at the Andersons' business, Ideas N' Designs at 116 W. Market St. in downtown Mount Carroll.
Checks should be written out to the City of Mount Carroll for the Stone House project. People also can call Gmitro at 815-244-4090 or the Andersons at 815-244-7875.