ROCKTON - Macktown Living History will be able to furnish one of its restored buildings thanks to a $18,366.49 grant by the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois' Community Grants Program.
Macktown's "Lessons From Our Pioneer Past" project is designed to make living history programming possible in the Stevens Building, one of Winnebago County's earliest buildings erected in 1838.
The building housed a cabinetmaker's shop and residence, a granary and a one-room school for children, including Native American children, of the Pecatonic settlement.
Grant monies from the Jon W. Lundin Preservation Fund will help make it possible to furnish and supply the Stevens Building cabinetmaking shop and residence and the upstairs one-room school.
Restoration of the Stevens Building has taken years. It was moved from the Macktown site to a different site in Rockton in the 1850s. Volunteers then dismantled the building in 2007 and put the pieces in storage. Reconstruction started in the winter of 2013 and continued over the next two years to accurately recreate on its original site next to the Stephen Mack home in the Macktown Forest Preserve. Building codes required new materials to be used. However, a section of one interior wall was constructed using materials from the original building.
"Completion of this building is a major step in our efforts to restore the original settlement," said Ray A. Ferguson, president of Macktown Living History. "It's a project we've worked on and dreamed about finishing for quite a few years now."
Although owned by Stephen Mack, this building has been designated the Stevens Building in reference to its occupant, cabinetmaker Sylvester Stevens.
"We think people will really enjoy learning about skills early craftsmen used, and I guarantee that attending a one-room school session at Macktown is an experience you will never forget," Ferguson said.
The unveiling of the completed Stevens Building is planned for The Gathering at Macktown, April 27-28. This living history event, which includes black powder shooting and demonstrations of early frontier life, takes place in the Macktown Forest Preserve, 2221 Freeport Road.
Macktown Living History is a volunteer organization in Rockton, Illinois whose mission is to restore and interpret the cultural lifeways of the early Pecatonic Settlement, one of Winnebago County's first communities. Living history events, historic gardening, Second Sunday monthly free programs and summer archaeological digs are a few of the ongoing activities.
For more information, visit macktownlivinghistory.com.