The village of Glen Ellyn and the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County recently signed an agreement that will allow for the preservation of the historic McKee House and set the stage for a new venture: The Native American Cultural and Environmental Center at Churchill Woods Forest Preserve.
Operated by The Midwest SOARRING Foundation, the center will be located in the architecturally and historically significant McKee House, a limestone-brick facility built during the Great Depression by Civilian Conservation Corps workers as part of the Works Progress Administration.
In recognition of the intergovernmental agreement and to launch fundraising efforts to create The Center, Midwest SOARRING will host a signing ceremony and free family-friendly event to celebrate the autumnal equinox at 11 a.m. Sept. 23 at Churchill Woods, located at St. Charles and Swift roads in Glen Ellyn, according to a news release.
Joseph Standing Bear Schranz will lead attendees in prayer at the Churchill Pavillion shelter by the DuPage River. For information, visit midwestsoarring.org/calendar.html
Situated along St. Charles Road in Glen Ellyn, McKee House, the historic residence of the first director of the forest preserve, will be restored and repurposed. The Center at Churchill Woods will house a Native American museum and a library as well as education and meeting rooms. The grounds will feature public gardens and a traditional longhouse.
The project brings together the past and present, reuniting Native Americans with an important Midwestern site. Churchill Woods was home to a large Potawatomi village dating to the late 1700s. The site also is home to Babcock Grove and the Churchill Prairie Nature Preserve and is surrounded by a native hardwood forest populated with trees that are more than 150 years old. The center, expected to open in 2025, will be open to the public.
Establishing the center at Churchill Woods will depend on the generosity of private donations. The initial fundraising goal is $4 million. Donations can be made at fundthecenter.org/offline-donation/