There are many examples of successful precedents for the ELHG business model regionally and across the country, which have informed this strategic plan. Following is a brief summary of some successfully restored community mansions.
The Grove, Glenview, IL – The Grove in Glenview is 143 acres of ecologically diverse prairie grove land preserved and maintained by the Glenview Park District. The Grove was the home of Dr. John Kennicott whose son, Robert Kennicott, is known for his plant and animal specimen collections at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., for founding the Chicago Academy of Sciences, and the exploration of Russian America that led to the purchase of Alaska. The Grove was designated a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior in 1976. It is on the National Registry of Historic Places. The Grove partners with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Chicago Wilderness on habitat preservation and educational programming.
Visitors can learn about native plants, animals and the environment at the Interpretive Center, connect with nature and history through workshops and hands-on programs, and walk the winding nature trails.
The Grove includes the Redfield Estate, which was built in 1929. It faces a wide, grassy clearing where weddings and receptions take place year-round and deer gather at twilight. A large main room provides a gracious setting for parties and reunions. The wooded environment surrounding Redfield Estate includes two gazebos, a reflecting pool, and tranquil gardens that are ideal for special events.
Highfield Hall and Gardens, Falmouth, MA – Highfield Hall and Gardens is a restored 1878 estate that now serves as a vibrant center of cultural and community life on Cape Cod. In 1994 a group of citizens formed the Highfield Hall and Gardens nonprofit to rescue the building from demolition after several decades of neglect. They secured a lease from the Town of Falmouth for $1 per year with Highfield Hall responsible for all repairs and maintenance of the building. They ultimately raised $8.5 million to restore the building and fund an endowment for their organization. They now successfully operate the mansion as a community and cultural center with a variety of events and exhibits that make the organization financially self-sufficient. In addition, they continue to have a development program to raise private donations to supplement revenue from events and programming. Today Highfield Hall has over $8 million in assets, of which over $2 million is cash and investments which serve as an endowment.
Berger Mansion, Chicago, IL – The Berger Mansion is part of the Chicago Park District. The property includes two of the few remaining Sheridan Road mansions built in the early 1900s. In 1988, the Park District rehabilitated the homes which are now used as a recreational building and a cultural center. The park includes a historic landmark coach house that for the past 9 years has hosted the Waterfront Café which has become a popular destination and raised the profile of the park overall. Berger offers a variety of cultural programs such as jewelry making, acting, guitar, tap, modern, flamenco, senior line dance and much more. It also offers many activities, including senior aerobics, computer, jewelry making, and writing classes; and theater and music programs for children and adults.
Cheney Mansion, Oak Park, IL – The Cheney Mansion in Oak Park was designed in 1913 by Charles E. White, Jr., a student of Frank Lloyd Wright. The 10,000 square foot mansion has several reception rooms and 2.5 acres of landscaped grounds. The property is currently managed by The Park District of Oak Park. The grounds are open to the public and the mansion is available for self-guided tours unless there is a private event. The mansion has become a premier event destination in Oak Park for fundraisers, community events and weddings. Since hiring a full-time professional director, the Cheney mansion has had an operating surplus based on the strong demand for event space.