By DeWayne Bartels TimesNewspapers METAMORA — The columns at the Metamora Courthouse Historic Site, sorely in need of repair, have found a benefactor.
An anonymous donor has stepped up agreeing to match gifts up to $10,000 for the repair of the columns. One of the first donations to be matched is $1,000 donated by the Eureka Community Bank. The courthouse, built in 1845, served as the center of county government until the county seat was moved to Eureka in 1896.
According to museum curator Jean Myers the Metamora Courthouse is one of two surviving on the historic Eighth Judicial Circuit traveled by Abraham Lincoln.
The State of Illinois provided funds to tuck point, re-plaster and paint the building, but the money ran out before the repairs on the exterior columns could be accomplished.
The two center columns are original to the building.
“The columns are built around trees. The bark is still on them. They are solid,“ Myers said. “The columns, however, are not. It’s just something that has to be done.”
Water getting into the columns, is causing them to bow. The money being sought would be used to straighten the columns. They also need to be primed and painted. It is estimated repairs will cost about $23,000.
Earlier this summer Myers said the clock is ticking.
“We have to have the work done by the end of October. The cap on top of the columns is open. When it was built they probably figured water would never get in there. It did,” Myers said.
“It might not last another year. If we have to re-build it would be tremendously expensive.”
Myers said this work has been needed for at least six years.
He said the state was made aware of the need, but internal repairs were the highest priority.
The need for restoration of the columns was not a secret. But, efforts to raise money for the project had been low-key until earlier this summer.
Because the state will not come through with the needed funds, the Woodford County Historical Society is organizing the repairs and has created a committee under the direction of Myers.
The society is a tax-exempt entity, and all donations are deductible.
To donate to the fund send checks to W.C.H.S. Metamora Courthouse Repair Fund at 112 N. Main, Eureka, IL 61530.
For more information, call the courthouse at 367-4470.