May is National Preservation Month, and with the help of grants and donations, DeKalb Area Women’s Center is ready to begin its own preservation efforts on the former Finnish Hall, now home to this non-profit organization. DeKalb Area Women’s Center was incorporated in 1993 to advocate for women and sponsors an art gallery along with a wide range of events held at 1021 State St. in DeKalb.
In March, the organization was awarded $1,000 from Landmarks Illinois’ Heritage Fund Grant. The Heritage Fund provides financial assistance to preserve significant structures within the state of Illinois. This grant required matching funds and in May, thanks to a Community Needs Grant from the DeKalb County Community Foundation, that match was not only met but the $6,000 award will also make possible the first step of necessary stabilization and repair work for the building.
Additionally, through the DeKalb County Community Foundation and DeKalb County Nonprofit Partnership co-sponsored event on May 6– Give Local DeKalb County, an additional $3,000 was raised from both individual donations and a large donation from the Finnish-American Society of the Midwest, all of which will also go toward preservation efforts. Local contractors R. W. Keys and Son, experienced in historic restoration will be performing the stabilization and repairs.
“The generosity of these funding organizations and donors has been crucial to get this preservation project started,” said Diane Rodgers, Associate Professor of Sociology at NIU who was responsible for writing the grants. Anna Marie Coveny, Director of the DeKalb Area Women’s Center, has long championed the need for preservation and the historical value of the building. With the help of Rodgers and several NIU students, the local Landmark status sought by Coveny became a reality in February of 2013. The former Finnish Temperance Hall was built in 1917.
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