Community Steps Up To Save Ford School
Several residents and area businesses have offered free supplies and labor, totaling more than $20,000, to help the LITH Historical Society move the 125-year-old schoolhouse to its original location.
It appears Bob and Arden Spooner have touched the hearts of area residents and business owners with their efforts to save the 125-year-old Ford School.
Standing before village trustees during a Committee of a Whole meeting last Tuesday, Bob Spooner said the community has stepped up to help the Lake in the Hills Historical Society with plans to return the school to its original home at Ford School Park, 302 Ramble Road.
The schoolhouse currently stands vacant and unused about a quarter-mile west of the park at the former Stonegate Nursery, 2001 W. Algonquin Road in Algonquin.
The tiny building is boarded up to guard against vandals and is the last structure standing on the empty property.
Bob Spooner, president of the Historical Society, shared an amended list of estimated costs to move the one-room school, a 20-by-36 foot structure built in 1886, during Tuesday's meeting.
In September, the society had asked the village for assistance with several necessities for the project. To help determine the cost of that requested work, LITH village staff last month estimated potential expenditures could total $31,251.
However, by removing some itemized expenditures and soliciting help from volunteers and donors, Spooner said his organization has dramatically cut the list of expected fees to $57.
“We’re very confident that in the spring we will bring Ford School home,” Spooner said.
Spooner said he has been overwhelmed by the generosity of the public.
Some donors have offered supplies at more affordable rates than village staff had anticipated, such as the Sherwin-Williams Paint Store of LITH. The store manager donated free paint for the exterior and interior of the school, and former LITH resident Patrick Minogue will help paint the building for free, Spooner said.
The village had earmarked paint and labor costs to total $7,663.
LITH architect and resident Enrique Castel has agreed to draft construction designs for the building, the site and drainage plan for free. Other residents, such as Greg Miller from Hoving Pit-Stop, and John Burke, owner of Burke Tree Service, also have extended their services on a volunteer basis.
“Things like that have rejuvenated my own enthusiasm when I look at the project,” Spooner said.
Some of the donors include:
Work Village est. cost/ New cost Donor
Sewer $8,000 $0 Hoving Pit-Stop, Greg Miller
Tree removal $3,000 $0 Burke Tree Service, resident
Drainage Plan $2,570 $0 Enrique Castel, arch.resident
Building paint $7,663 $0 LITH Sherwin-Williams
Dirt removal $1,944 $0 Rustic Landscaping
Site plan $860 $0 Coordination-village waived fee
Com-Ed $800 $0 Steve Wierdsma ComEd Prjct Mgr.
Brush removal $425 $0 Rustic Landscaping
The fee for traffic management, estimated at $57, is the only cost not covered by donations. The house would be moved on a weekday during non-rush hour.
Village officials had included a $430 fee for Nicor and $5,500 for water services on its list. However, historical society members said those utilities are not needed.
The society plans to convert the school house to its original condition, and the schoolhouse did not have a bathroom with septic services when constructed. Students used two outhouses, Arden Spooner said.
To date, the historical society has raised nearly $5,100 in donations since efforts began in August to save the house. They’ve also received an additional $7,500 matching gift from a Lake in the Hills donor who wishes to remain anonymous, Arden Spooner said.
Most recently, Mike Carzoli, owner of Blue Skies Flying Service at the LITH Airport, said he will give a free airplane ride to anyone giving $100 or more in cash or services for the "Save Ford School" project, Arden Spooner said.
The Historical Society has a list of additional expenditures the group plans to cover with the donations.
The school will need a new foundation, estimated at $7,380, when moved. The society must obtain permits for the move and coordinate the relocation with a licensed house mover, among other items detailed in a September 20, 2011 letter presented to the Village Board.
Stonegate Nursery land owner Lynn Schuman, who resides in Lake in the Hills, recognized the value of the schoolhouse and offered to donate the building to the Historical Society.
The Spooners said they will return to the Village Board in December to seek a formal approval from trustees for the Ford School Project. The village owns Ford School Park, and the historical society needs formal permission to move the school there and then renovate it.