DeKalb County has needed a countywide history center for
decades and the dream finally became a reality with the opening
of the new $1.5 million, 7,600 square foot complex last weekend.
More than 300 people attended the donors night preview
and then the grand opening last Saturday.
There is so much to see you cant possibly do
it in an hour, Michelle Donahoe, executive director and
the driving force behind the project, said. She and County Historian
Sue Breese, who heads the Joiner History Room that relocated
there, have spent countless hours over many months pulling this
all together and the result is a dream come true. When so many
small museums and local historical attractions are disappearing
due to economic reasons or lack of support, building this new
center is a real boost for DeKalb County.
DeKalb County History Center board member Bill Lenschow
speaks at the ribbon-cutting last Saturday. At back from left
are US Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-Naperville), former State Rep.
Bob Pritchard, and Orrin Merritt from the Kishwaukee Valley Heritage
Society in Genoa. (Schrader photo for ShawMedia)
Combining the local history component to mesh with the
Smithsonian traveling exhibit Crossroads Change in
Rural America provides the depth to the history of small
communities and farm life you wouldnt see in one part alone.
The stand-alone exhibit in the center of the room is all Smithsonian,
while the display cases and wall mountings are those done locally.
People should realize this exhibit will only be open for viewing
here for a little more than 30 days, then moved out on June 22.
At that time the local history exhibit will be expanded to fill
the space left in the center of the room. Michelle already has
those plans in place so artifacts from around the county will
be brought in at that time. That will be a good reason to return
for another tour later in the summer. The local exhibit will
remain in place until the end of March 2020.
Besides the big display area and the Joiner History Room
for research and genealogy, there is a large meeting room at
the other end of the building where clubs and others can rent
space for meetings and receptions. This should attract even more
attention to the history center.
History center board member and lifelong farmer Bill Lenschow
said it so well at the ribbon-cutting when he commented I
have never seen a county with so much foresight and willingness
to work on a project together like DeKalb County. Its more
than the fertility of the land and farming that makes people
want to raise their families here
Just a thought: Bill and wife Kathy would make great figures
to pose for a sculpture of the Great American Farm Couple. Sycamore
already has the Great American Coach sculpture of Pete Johnson
and the Great Mr. Pumpkin in Wally Thurow. So why not another
statue at the history center!