2014 Local History "In the News"

New Sign at Rezab Family Prairie Meadow
         A new sign has been installed at the Rezab Family Prairie Meadow on the northwest corner of West Adams and Wigwam Hollow Road.  A generous and anonymous donation to the McDonough County Historical Society fulfilled the instructions of the donor to honor the Rezab Family with a more appropriate and attractive sign.
         Don and Gordana Rezab wanted to protect the southern side of the Old Macomb Cemetery with an area for reflection and contemplation. Gordana wanted to establish a pioneer heritage meadow that reflected the prairie plants at the time the cemetery was established in 1830.
         Since 2012, the McDonough County Historical Society, in close cooperation with Tim Howe, City Forrester, and Gary Rhoads, City Sexton, has developed this two-acre site with weed removal, the planting of over 500 potted prairie plants and 12 memorial trees.
         This prairie restoration will evolve over several years as more species are planted, walking paths designated, and benches installed. The variety of plants and trees will be educational tools for curious visitors.
         The Rezab Family Prairie Meadow already serves as a dignified and appropriate entry into Macomb’s oldest historical cemetery.

The next meeting of

Colchester Area Historical Society

will be

Tues. March 17, 2015 at 7 P.M.


Colchester City Hall Community Room

located in Friendway Park. 

The program will be “Show and Tell of Historical Items”. 

We do not meet in Dec., Jan. or Feb.

Scouts clean up cemetery

Simpson clean-up
       On a crisp, sunny fall afternoon, 15 members of Boy Scout troop #315 attacked the weeds, scrub, tree limbs, and branches that covered the floor of the Simpson Cemetery hidden in deep woods north of Macomb.
        In 2010, Tucker Hays reclaimed the Simpson cemetery from almost 100 years of neglect, a project that fulfilled his major requirement to reach Eagle Scout. But in four years, Mother Nature has been aggressively taking her toll again.
       The Simpson family cemetery has been inactive and abandoned since 1918. The earliest burial was an infant in 1842. The last was William M. Simpson, a veteran who died in World War I in 1918.  An older William T. Simpson was a veteran of the Civil War who died in 1878. Seven of the 16 headstones mark the graves of young children or infants. Ten members of the Simpson family rest in this deeply wooded and secluded plot.
       This fall the troop cleared a footpath from the edge of the woods to the entrance of the cemetery. Armed with a variety of tools, the Scouts restored the beautiful cemetery with its erect headstones and ancient wire fence supported by original concrete posts.
       Wesley United Methodist Church sponsors Scout troop #315. The McDonough County Historical Society directs the county cemetery project.

Colchester Area Historical Society meeting

The first meeting of the Colchester Area Historical Society for this year will be Tues. Sept. 16 at 7 P.M.  at Colchester City Hall Community Room at Friendway Park. Members and guests can bring historical items for the "Show and Tell" program.  All interested individuals are invited to attend.

Prairie Planting

Tim Howe, City Forester, supervising trenching by Jason Brendau.
Tim Howe, City Forester, supervising trenching by Jason Brendau.
Demetrius Allen unloading some of the 450 plants.
Demetrius Allen unloading some of the 450 plants.
Demetrius Allen (from upper left), Greg Van Vleet, Jeff Moore, Gloria Diggs, Bill Knox, and Tim Howe fill in the soil around the plant roots.
Demetrius Allen (from upper left), Greg Van Vleet, Jeff Moore, Gloria Diggs, Bill Knox, and Tim Howe fill in the soil around the plant roots.
Gloria Diggs setting prairie plants in the trenches.
Gloria Diggs setting prairie plants in the trenches.
A completed 125 foot row, one of five rows planted.
A completed 125 foot row, one of five rows planted.

A completed 125 foot row, one of five rows planted.
A completed 125 foot row, one of five rows planted.

Prairie Planting

             The Rezab Family Prairie Meadow pioneer restoration project sponsored by the McDonough County Historical Society moved a giant step forward on Friday, July 18, with the planting of over 450 one-gallon prairie plants.  There were over 17 different varieties of grasses set in trenches. Earlier this spring an additional 300 forbs were planted along Wigwam Hollow.

            Tim Howe, City Forester, jumped on an opportunity to get these plants donated by the Illinois Department of Transportation. Each year, after the DOT landscapes the Illinois roads and highways with plants grown by the Department of Natural Resources, it distributes the excess to non-profit community organizations. Both the City of Macomb and the McDonough County Historical Society qualified for this donation.

            Gloria Diggs, one of Howe’s assistants, supervised the project all spring. Diggs graduated from WIU in May with a degree in agriculture with emphases in horticulture and urban forestry. Demetrius Allen, a WIU student and Leatherneck football player, also working with Howe and Diggs, helped with the planting.

            Gil Belles, on behalf of the historical society, oversees the development of the prairie restoration. He invited Bill Knox and Greg Van Vleet of the Centennial Rotary to help, in addition to Jeff Moore, soccer coach at Macomb High, with his own landscaping business.

            In just under two hours, these seven volunteers set the 450 plants in five trough rows trenched by Jason Brendau. They were then watered with a wish for some rain over the weekend.


            The Rezab Family Prairie Meadow has 14 new heritage trees, each donated for this tribute to Don and Gordana Rezab. As the restoration progresses, there will be benches for reflection and meditation in this gateway to the Old Macomb Cemetery just north on Wigwam Hollow Road. 

  • Family’s former

    downtown business

    is remembered with

    discovered sign

  • Pumo: ‘It looked to me like they were going to throw it away’
  • Pictured is Jim Pumo (from left), Rick Stasen and daughter Keala, and FrankLainie Steelman/The VoicePictured is Jim Pumo (from left), Rick Stasen and daughter Keala, and Frank
    By Lainie Steelman

    Posted Jul. 8, 2014 @ 10:20 am 

    Thanks to the careful eye of a Macomb businessman, a rural Good Hope man has received the sign that once belong to his parents' family-owned business.
    Jim Pumo's Pumo Insurance office is at 19 E. Side Square. One day he noticed exterior renovations at Envy, 5 E. Side Square, had revealed a forgotten piece of the square's history: The original sign for the Coast to Coast Hardware Store, which for more than 20 years was owned by Bernard and Kathleen Stasen, who've both passed away, before closing in 1978.
    "It looked to me like they were going to throw it away," Pumo recalled about the sign. "So I went over and got it."
    Only the end sections of the three-piece sign were visible during the renovations at Envy, but Pumo found the three middle section on an adjacent building and got it, too.
    Pumo, a Macomb native, had gone to high school with one of the Stasen children, Ed, and remembered the store. At a 45th class reunion over Heritage Days weekend, Pumo told Ed the sign belonged with the Stasen family.
    Until the sign could be handed back to the rightful owners, Frank Jobe, stored the three-piece sign at his auto garage, Minus Muffler.
    On Monday, Rick Stasen, another of the Stasen children, stopped at Minus Muffler to pick up the sign. Rick was 12 years old when the family business closed but occasionally helped out.
    "I watched my mom unload bicycles from trucks," he said. "I got my work ethic from the store."
    Rick said he planned to display the Coast to Coast sign on his barn in rural Good Hope.

Read more: http://www.mcdonoughvoice.com/article/20140708/News/140709485#ixzz371TiVZg9

from the McDonough County Voice



Several Projects Underway
9:05 AM
MON JULY 7, 2014

Construction Crews Busy in Downtown Macomb

Public and privately financed construction projects will change and improve the look of downtown Macomb.

The big private project is the renovation of the five-story Lamoine Hotel building. Developer Chris Trotter plans to convert the second through fifth floors into assisted living apartments.


The Lamoine Hotel
Credit TSPR's Rich Egger


City Administrator Dean Torreson said, “I have a lot of hope that project will turn out very well for the community and the downtown. It’s the largest building in the downtown and it’s an important one. I have confidence Mr. Trotter will – with the city’s help – turn that into a productive building once again.” 

Torreson said it “helps tremendously” to have people living in the downtown.

A block northof the Lamoine, the parking lot is being rebuilt at the train depot. Torreson said it will have new concrete with curb and gutter. He thinks the project will improve the look of the depot.


The train station in Macomb
Credit TSPR's Rich Egger


Torreson is looking forward to cleaning up the site at Route 67 and the railroad tracks, which is right across the highway from the train depot and is at the main intersection in town. He said the historic old service station building will likely remain but everything else will be removed. A final plan for the site has not been approved. One possibility is to have a welcome center there to provide the Convention and Visitors Bureau with a higher profile location.

“The Convention and Visitors Bureau right now is down in the museum building about three blocks south of there. It’s just not very visible.”


Credit TSPR's Rich Egger


Torreson said the nearby alley will be paved and a bike path will be built. He said the site will tie the West Adams Street corridor project into the downtown.

“We look at the Adams Street project as being a link from the downtown to the university. When you mention downtown improvements, that (the Adams Street project) needs to be considered along with those that are actually in the downtown.”

The city’s downtown revitalization project for the courthouse square is scheduled to begin in Spring 2016. Torreson said it should be completed before the end of that year. He thinks improvements from the private sector will continue for years afterward.

Work is also underway to build an addition to the Macomb Public Library that will double the facility's size. The section that housed the children’s library on the north side of the building has been torn down.


Credit TSPR's Emily Boyer


Macomb’s Library Director Dennis Danowski says an addition will be built in its place and attached to the original 1904 Carnegie library keeping with the same architecture and feel.

“We’re going to add two stories," Danowski said. "The first floor will be the children’s library. The second flood will be where we will have all of our books. Where the collection is going to be housed and it will have a computer lab.”


The walk through from the main building to the children's library has been temporarily closed off.
Credit TSPR's Emily Boyer


The community raised $794,024 for the project and the state chipped in more than$2.3 million. Danowski says the hope is to have the addition open by the end of the year.

State Senator John Sullivan (D-Rushville) said during the announcement of state funding for the addition to the Macomb Public Library, that the improvements around town are a sign of growth

“The sign a community is moving forward and their not stagnant is when you look around and you see development and construction and things being built," Sullivan said.

Dr. Richard Barbuto
Dr. Richard Barbuto

The Western Illinois Museum, in partnership with the Heritage Days Committee, is pleased to host Dr. Richard Barbuto who will present, “Plattsburgh 1814: Alexander Macomb’s Finest Hour.”  The lecture will be on Saturday, June 28, at 11:30 am, following the Heritage Day Parade, and will be held at the Western Illinois Museum.  The event is free and open to the public.

Dr. Barbuto is a recognized scholar and speaker on the War of 1812.  The talk will explore two of the war’s heroes, General Alexander Macomb and Commodore Thomas McDonough. Both generals left a legacy of clever military strategy that fostered pride in our young country as they fought what was often called the second war of independence with Britain.  General Alexander Macomb and his men were recognized with a Congressional Gold Medal in 1814 for their “gallantry and good conduct, in defeating the enemy at Plattsburg.”  With the bicentennial of the Battle of Plattsburgh approaching, the program offers a rare opportunity to hear an accomplished historian speak about events that set in motion the development of West Central Illinois. 

Dr. Rich Barbuto is professor of history and deputy director of CGSC’s Department of Military History.  A 1971 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, he served for twenty-three years as an armor officer with tours of duty in Germany, Korea, and Canada.  Barbuto received his Master of Arts degree in History from Eastern Kentucky University and his Ph.D. from the University of Kansas.  Barbuto specializes in the U.S. Army in the early republic and the War of 1812.  He authored Niagara 1814: America Invades Canada, and Long Range Guns, Close Quarter Combat.  He recently authored two commemorative pamphlets on the War of 1812 along the Canadian border for the U.S. Army Center of Military History.  He is currently researching a study of New York State in the War of 1812.

The program has been organized by the Macomb Area Convention and Visitors Bureau’s Heritage Days Committee.  The Western Illinois Museum is located at 201 South Lafayette Street, one block south of Macomb’s historic Courthouse Square.  For more information, contact the museum at 309.837.2750 or info@westernillinoismuseum.org.


On June 28, at 2:00, as part of this year's Heritage Days event, focused on "Macomb's Military Heritage," there will be a re-enactment of a typical 19th-century Decoration Day ceremony in Oakwood Cemetery. Titled "The Memory Shall be Ours," the script was created by John Hallwas, based on 19th-century GAR manuals and local newspaper accounts of those Civil War remembrance ceremonies. The re-enactment will feature the Macomb Band, under the direction of Michael Fansler, which will play a variety of Civil War songs. Also, the 114th Regiment, reactivated, a noted Civil War soldier re-enactment group from Springfield, will be performing the roles once filled generations ago by local Civil War veterans: posting the flag, speaking about soldiers, and decorating selected soldier graves. In the 19th century, this was Macomb's largest participatory event, which often drew several thousand people to Oakwood Cemetery. The re-enactment will be filmed by WIU Television, with director Roger Kent in charge of the taping, editing, and creation of the film. It is planned to make this re-enactment available on local TV, especially during the Memorial Day holiday each spring. The re-enactment, which is largely a Civil War music concert, is free to the public on the Saturday of Heritage Days.

Cemetery Symbols and Tombstone History Discussion

University Libraries will be hosting Greg Phelps, "Dead Men's
Tales: Cemetery Symbols and Tombstone History Discussion" on
Wednesday, June 4 at 6:30 p.m. in Room 180 of Leslie F. Malpass

Many Americans visit cemeteries to honor loved ones on Memorial
Day.  Have you ever wondered what the symbols on the tombstones
really mean?  What is the story behind the angel, acronym, or
symbol?  Greg Phelps, a Library Specialist with University
Libraries and President of Scott's Cemetery Association, will
discuss many of the common symbols people see in cemeteries
plus a look at tombstone history.  Attendees will also learn how
to make a tombstone rubbing!  This lecture was presented in the
fall semester 2013 and due to patron interest will be presented
again with some new information added.

This event is free and open to the public.  Any questions,
contact Tammy Sayles at tj-sayles@wiu.edu.


  • Macomb's military

    heritage focus of

    cemetery tour

from the McDonough County Voice

By Nick Draper
Staff Reporter 

Posted May. 27, 2014 @ 10:18 am 


 Oakwood Cemetery houses the graves of men that fought in many of the nation’s wars, including hundreds that served in the Civil War.
The Macomb’s Military Heritage Tour at Oakwood, sponsored by the Friends of Oakwood Cemetery, provided some insight by author and historian John Hallwas into the stories of the cemetery’s residents.
Memorial Day, or Decoration Day as it was known during the Civil War, has always been a large part of Macomb as the city celebrated its veterans heavily throughout its history, Hallwas said.
“It wasn’t just civil war guys,” he explained. “(It was) earlier wars too and, of course, later wars. That started after the Civil War with the whole sea change that came in about the way we should honor and remember our soldiers.”
Macomb has seen its share of servicemen, with many of the large movers and shakers throughout its history having been in the military in some form. This includes C.V. Chandler, the richest man in the county and the one who personally paid for the statue in Chandler park.
This also includes W.H. Hainline who ran the Macomb Journal and former president of Western Illinois University Alfred Bayliss.
Illinois University Alfred Bayliss.
These veterans made sure that the dead were celebrated in a proper way each Decoration Day, Hallwas said.
“You had 2,500 people in the town in 1870, 1880, 1890,” Hallwas said. “We had 5,000 on Decoration Day, double the population of the town was out here on Decoration Day and it was because these guys made it happen.”
People would come in from all over the county, and from other counties, to Macomb and would have a war hero give a speech. People would line up as far as the eye could see, Hallwas said.
The headstones of veterans, each adorned with a flag, included those who had served in many different wars. One stone, the stone of Francis D. Lipe, is adorned with the odd “Cherokee War.”
The Cherokee War was actually the removal of Cherokees by Andrew Jackson, known as the famous Trail of Tears, where the Cherokee Indians were removed from their lands and driven into “Indian Territory,” now known as Oklahoma.
Another interesting stone was the stone of Colonel Carter Van Vlec, whom had fought in the battle of Chickamauga and was wounded.
“He should have really went home and stayed there,” Hallwas said. “His arm was in a sling. But as soon as he possibly could get back in the service, after a period of a couple months he did so.”

Read more: http://www.mcdonoughvoice.com/article/20140527/News/140529407#ixzz33RNYD89t

  • 'Women Breaking Barriers' hosted for planned memorial

By May 2015, Macomb's Chandler Park will be the home of something unique for many communities: A memorial honoring women social activists.
After more than two years of planning and fundraising, the GFWC Macomb Woman's Club has broken ground on the memorial, which will be placed in Chandler Park. On Friday afternoon, the Western Illinois University's Department of Women's Studies and Malpass Library's Archives and Special Collections, along with the Woman's Club Social Service Memorial Committee, hosted "Women Breaking Barriers: A Celebration of Local Female Social Activism" at the Multicultural Center to share information about the memorial.
Several speakers, including WIU President Jack Thomas, Department of Women's Studies Chairwoman Aimee Shouse, Macomb Mayor Mike Inman and WIU Distinguished Professor Emeritus John Hallwas spoke about the importance of having women's social service memorial placed in Chandler Park.
Hallwas noted other monuments, such as the Hull House historic home in Chicago that honors Jane Addams, but could not recall one that collectively honors women who committed their lives to social causes.
"No town or county has a monument such as we are erecting, to remember and celebrate a whole tradition of females with inspiring commitment to social causes," he said. "And I believe that it will both say something important about the culture here in Macomb and serve as a model for other communities, prompting them to look into their own tradition of often-overlooked female social activists."
The memorial will specifically honor Macomb's most well-known female activists, including Josie Westfall, who 1911 started an orphanage and cared for more than 500 children before her death in 1941.
Tina Belz, co-chairwoman of the Woman's Club social service memorial committee, said on Friday the newest name added to the list that will inscribed on the pedestal is Clara Bayliss, wife of Alfred Bayliss, WIU's second president.
"We added Clara Bayliss to our list of notable women and she was very active with the university," Belz said, "and she was very much an advocate for children. She started the local Daughter of the American Revolution and she was very active."
The memorial's patio construction has started — Jack Laveirdere Construction donated the work — and the memorial will be completed by May 2015. The memorial's statue, "Facing the Storm," which will feature a bronze sculpture of a woman and child, will be ordered soon by the Woman's Club from a Bradley University art professor.
For more information about the memorial and the women who will honored, or to donate by purchasing one of 100 available memorial bricks or a bench, visit http://womens-memorial-macomb.weebly.com.
Reach Lainie Steelman via email at lsteelman@McDonoughVoice.com, or follow her on Twitter@LainieSteelman.

Read more: http://www.mcdonoughvoice.com/article/20140503/News/140509759#ixzz32ZyjAHXC

Colchester library to get $35,000 grant for repairs
By Nick Draper

Staff Reporter 
Posted May. 2, 2014 @ 1:30 pm 


The historic Colchester District Library will soon see renovations thanks, in part, to a state construction grant.
A grant in the amount of $35,000 was officially awarded to the Colchester District Library by Secretary of State and State Jesse White. According to Debbie Sullivan, director for the library, the funds should arrive sometime this fall.
“Maybe around August we’ll have the money in hand,” Sullivan said. “The building is about 125 years old and nothing has been done to it in a very long time. It was a jail, it was a firehouse, and it deserves to be kept up.”
The project will come to fruiting in three phases, Sullivan explained, the first of which will be completing the restoration of the foundation and some brick work. Crumbling bricks and leaks are a chief concern for the library.
Second, the concrete in the front of the library will be leveled and a slope will be placed to make the building handicap accessible.
Finally, several carpentry concerns will be addressed such as the fixing of roof leaks, the repair of the guttering, and the repair of some rotting windowsills.
Sullivan said that the interior parts of the library will also ideally get some renovations through the library’s “bucket list” fundraising campaign. Patrons can donate at the library to help fulfill smaller items that the grant might not cover.
Depending on when the money is received, construction will start at the end of the year or possibly the beginning of next year, weather being a determining factor as most of the work is external.
The grant is part of $790,000 worth of construction projects awarded to 14 other cities that will renovate their respective libraries.
“I’m very glad that it’s going to work out because the work needs to be done,” Sullivan said.
Reach Nick Draper via email at ndraper@McDonoughVoice.com, or follow him on Twitter @nick_draper.

Read more: http://www.mcdonoughvoice.com/article/20140502/News/140509800#ixzz32ZzN3okR

Jackie Smith/The Voice The old Lamoine Hotel at 203 N. Randolph St.
Jackie Smith/The Voice The old Lamoine Hotel at 203 N. Randolph St.
  • Old hotel’s hearing



  • By Patrick Stout

    Posted Apr. 24, 2014 @ 10:26 am 

    MACOMB —
    A hearing into the historical appropriateness of planned exterior renovations to the former Lamoine Hotel was continued to May so photos of current windows and sketches of the planned building surface can be examined.
    The Lamoine Group, a subsidiary of Trotter Construction, is currently remodeling the interior of the historic hotel.
    Chris Trotter shared exterior design plans Tuesday with the Macomb Historic Preservation Commission. Because the former hotel is located in the downtown historic district, the commission must issue a "certificate of appropriateness" for any exterior work.
    Commission Chairman Dennis Danowski said that, because the hotel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, extra care must be given to ensure that changes conform to the historic look of the building.
    Commissioners agreed with Trotter's plan to replace gutters and downspouts with a copper patina replica. He said the now-aluminum fixtures were originally made of copper.
    Trotter said he would use a painted copper patina to save two-thirds of the cost of all-copper gutters and downspouts. He showed commissioners samples of the finished look.
    The contractor's plan to replace wooden hotel windows with aluminum-clad wood was met with a question of whether any of the existing windows could be restored rather than replaced.
    "They are in awful shape," Trotter responded.
    Commissioner Jodi Pospeschil agreed.
    "I used to work in that building," Pospeschil said. "Those windows are crumbling and can't be restored."
    Danowski asked Trotter to return in May with photos of the existing windows so the commission would have evidence that they cannot be restored.
    Trotter was also asked to bring sketches of the brick and limestone building exterior that would be extended to add stairways and elevators to the former hotel's southeast side.
    The developer said he had revised original plans to convert the second through fifth floors of the building into an assisted living center in favor of a combination assisted living and independent living facility.
    "We won't be able to have 44 apartments because the independent living apartments will be twice the size of the assisted living units," Trotter said.
    He envisions being able to create 30 to 36 apartments.
    Trotter said he wants to build a restaurant as part of the intended commercial space on the building's first floor. He also told commissioners that he would bring plans for them to examine for alternate options for heating and cooling units.
    The contractor and developer said he's considering installing a motel-style combination heating and cooling unit in each apartment.
    "Condenser units would have to be placed somewhere on the roof," Trotter said.
    Reach Patrick Stout via email at pstout@McDonoughVoice.com.

Read more:http://www.mcdonoughvoice.com/article/20140424/News/140429549#ixzz306iNNBxy

Linda Rezab Gibson accepting sign
Linda Rezab Gibson accepting sign

Press Release

March 1, 2014


            On Saturday, March 1, Linda Rezab Gibson, on behalf of her brother Ray and sister Julie, accepted the sign officially designating the Rezab Family Prairie Meadow. Gibson was in Macomb to accept a posthumous “Writing Women Back into History” honor conferred on her mother Gordana by the Macomb Feminist Network.

            The Rezab Family Prairie Meadow is located south of the Old Macomb Cemetery at the northwest corner of Wigwam Hollow Road and West Adams Street.

             In 2012, the McDonough County Historical Society (MCHS), under the leadership of president Gordana Rezab, initiated a new phase of its Cemetery Project: the restoration, preservation, and beautification of the Old Macomb Cemetery.  Rezab spearheaded the campaign to install a new fence around the cemetery.

            The society then turned its attention to the empty lot directly south of the cemetery. The goal is to transform the adjacent two-acre field into a pioneer prairie meadow as a contemplative and educational entry to the cemetery.

            This required obtaining control over the land. Rezab persuaded the Macomb City Council to accept the land with the provision that development be the responsibility of the MCHS.

            Before her untimely death, 12 of 14 new trees had been planted as well as the sowing of heritage prairie meadow seeds.

            The City Council named the area the “Rezab Family Prairie Meadow.”

            Rezab’s contributions to Macomb’s history go beyond her leadership of the MCHS. On Saturday, the Macomb Feminist Network honored many of her legacies to our community. 

            As head archivist at WIU, Rezab was instrumental in developing the division of Archives and Special Collections. She was treasurer of Macomb Beautiful Association, McDonough County Choral Society, and League of Women Voters. She was a founder of the McDonough County Genealogical Society. Rezab was on the board of the Western Illinois Museum.

            One culmination of her research interests was published as Place Names in McDonough County, an unusual and valuable reference tool.


            Linda Rezab Gibson shared family memories with the crowd at the honor ceremony and expressed the pride of her siblings with the Prairie Meadow and the Writing Women Back into History Award. 

By Patrick Stout

February 27. 2014 6:00AM

Three downtown building plans OK’d

approved Tuesday by the Macomb Historic Preservation Commission.

Under state regulations, buildings located in a historic district

must receive a "certificate of appropriateness" from the commission

before any exterior changes can be made.

The insurance firm of Purdum, Gray, Ingledue, and Beck presented

plans for new shingles and pitched roofs on their buildings at 211 and

215 E. Jackson St.

Ben Beck said the present flat roofs have caused consistent water

problems.He said water pooling and then leakage was caused by the

flat roofs.

Bob White, the construction contractor, said the new roofs would

allow the business to add building insulation if desired.

"We're looking for long-term improvements that look good," Beck

said of the construction plans. He said the new look should be pleasing

to the eye for visitors approaching the downtown square from the east.

Commissioner Sue Scott said she found the look very attractive but

was concerned that it was not consistent with the buildings' 1950s


"Should the commission insist on the work retaining the integrity of

the original building, or is it acceptable that it just be redone in

accordance with nearby downtown structures?" she asked.

Gary Ziegler, acting community development coordinator, said the

commission has approved some pitched roofs in the past.

"So this would be a matter of consistency," he said, adding that the

planned pitch of the roof is very similar to that of Macomb City Hall,

which is across the street from the insurance agency.


Commissioners also approved exterior plans for Comb's Apartments at

222 E. Carroll St. Co-owner Micah Hester said this would be the second

phase of exterior work on the building.

Hester said one of the goals of the next construction is to eliminate

deterioration of mortar and bricks.

"Some of the bricks are bulging out because of mortar deterioration,"

he said. "Tuck pointing would grind out the old mortar."

The commission also approved a pending request for a new door to be

added to a planned Mediterranean restaurant at 135 North Randolph


Restaurant developer Alex Qurash said he had found a delivery door

design compatible with the look of the building.

Qurash said he would be purchasing the door from Menard's. He

presented catalog photos of the door he prefers, with alternative designs also


"I think it's an appropriate door," Ziegler said of Qurash's first choice.

Qurash said the door would be painted to match the rest of the building exterior.

Commission Chairman Dennis Danowski thanked Qurash for his many

appearances before the group to get various building exterior plans approved.

"I know it's been a long process," the chairman said.

For Immediate Release

February 11, 2014    



The Western Illinois Museum is pleased to host author

Laurie Loewenstein, author of the new publication, Unmentionables



The Western Illinois Museum is pleased to host author, Laurie Loewenstein whose novel, Unmentionables is set in a community much like Macomb.  Loewenstein’s childhood visits to Macomb to visit her grandparents instilled an interest in the region’s history, as well as, insights

she used to create the setting for the book.  The author will speak about her personal connection with McDonough County and how it is intertwined with the novel’s topics such as the Suffragette Movement and woman’s involvement in WWI.  She will also read from her publication during the program which will be Saturday, February 22, at 2:00 pm at the Western Illinois Museum.  The event is free and open to the public. 


Unmentionable is an extensively researched historic fiction published in 2014 by Kaylie Jones Books, an imprint of Akashic Books.  The novel begins by introducing Marian, an outspoken advocate for sensible women’s undergarments, who is part of 1917 Chautauqua lecture series.  While speaking in the small Midwest town modeled after Macomb, she sustaining an injury and is sidelined from the lecture tour.  While convalescing, she gets an opportunity to sees the community’s response to her call for reform. As the week passes, she throws into turmoil the town’s unspoken rules governing social order, women, and race relations.  Marian is a powerful catalyst that propels a small, Midwest nineteenth-century community into the twentieth century; but while she agitates for enlightenment and justice, she has taken little time to consider her own motives and her extreme loneliness. Marian, in the end, must decide if she has the courage to face small-town life, and be known, or continue to be a stranger always passing through.


The publication will be available for purchase during the program courtesy of the publisher, Akashic Books.  More information about the publisher or to purchase the book in advance, visit: http://www.akashicbooks.com/catalog/unmentionables/ Electronic versions are also available through Amazon.


The Western Illinois Museum is located at 201 South Lafayette Street, one block south of Macomb’s historic Courthouse Square.  For more information, contact the museum at 309.837.2750 or info@westernillinoismuseum.org