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Geneseo Republic - Geneseo, IL
  • Work starts on new museum carriage house

  • Construction started Sept. 14 on the Geneseo Historical Museum's newest project — a carriage house.
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  • Construction started Sept. 14 on the Geneseo Historical Museum's newest project — a carriage house.
    When the Italianate-style home that houses the Geneseo Historical Museum was built, it had a carriage house located behind it.
    "We don't have any pictures of that carriage house, but we wish we did," said museum curator Angie Snook. "Because it was one of the grander houses in Geneseo, I would imagine it had one of the grander carriage houses as well."
    The location of the original carriage house is now home to the building housing the dental office of Drs. Bruce Fehlman and Jeffrey Hirschfelder, Maple Grove Framing & Gallery and 2nd Street Studio.
    For many years, the Geneseo Historical Museum's building served as apartments. A 10-car garage was built behind the home for the residents.
    Fifteen years ago, when the museum board purchased the home, they also purchased the garage complex.
    That structure houses additional portions of the museum's collection, including farm equipment, Hennepin Canal items, Chicago World's Fair artifacts and more.
    In 2011, the museum board purchased property at 219 S. Center St., (next door to the garage site) and demolished a home located there.
    Snook said the board's long-term goal was to build a carriage house, demolish the 10-car garage and also build a museum parking lot.
    "We knew we were going to have to do something, but we didn't know we were going to do it so quickly," said Snook.
    A "wonderful gift" from the Lyle and Helen Henry Estate helped cover a quarter of the project's cost and enabled the board to move forward the project start date.
    "Our garages are overflowing, so once the carriage house is built, we will be moving the displays there," explained Snook.
    The carriage house will be a split level design, she said.
    "A part of the carriage house will be down about four feet and will house the Hennepin Canal displays. The main floor will have the carriages and the third floor will have the early agricultural display. We also will have a horse stall in the building so the children can see what a carriage house was like," she said.
    Though many of the displays will be moved from the current garage space to the new carriage house, several displays — including the museum's collection of items on record-setting harness racing horse Dan Patch — will be moved from the main house to the carriage house.
    A doctor's carriage, which currently sits under the stairs in the museum's main entrance, also will be moved.
    Moving the displays will help free up additional space inside the main museum building, said Snook.
    Page 2 of 2 - Stees Construction of Geneseo is serving as general contractors for the building, which will be constructed in the same style as the museum home.
    "It will have a lighted cupola on top," said Snook.
    Though photos of the home's original carriage house are no longer in existence, museum board members have been using other carriage houses in Geneseo as examples.
    "I think if people visit the older sections of Geneseo and take time to look down the drives, they'd be amazed how many old barns and carriages houses are still in Geneseo," said Snook. "We're looking at carriages houses built in the same time period (as the museum)."
    The carriage house construction follows on the heels of a new educational wing that recently was added to the museum.
    Snook said, aside from doing work to add the home's servant quarters to the public portion of the museum, the board doesn't have any additional major construction projects planned.
    "I think (the carriage house) is going to be the last one ... never say never, though!" she said.
    Snook anticipates carriage house construction to take approximately a year.
    "We hope to get the foundation in and structure up (before winter)," she said.
    Once the carriage house is completed, the 10-car garage will be demolished and a parking lot, complete with handicapped spaces, will be installed.
    "Eventually we want to put fencing around the entire property to show that the areas are combined. We've been calling it our museum campus," said Snook.
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