Huntley Historical Society hopes to build a museum, will host fundraiser to help with effort

Lou Malnati’s in Lakewood will donate 20% of certain orders throughout Feb. 13

The Huntley Historical Society is hoping to open up a museum at the farmhouse pictured, at 12209 W. Main St., in Huntley. The museum is hosting a fundraiser on Feb. 13, 2023 to assist in the effort.

A fundraiser to help build a new historical museum in Huntley is set to be held in a couple weeks, but more work will need to be done before the museum becomes a reality, organizers said.

The Huntley Historical Society will hold a fundraiser on Feb. 13 through Lou Malnati’s at 8515 Redtail Drive in Lakewood, board member Donna Britton said. The fundraiser will take place 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and will see Lou’s donate 20% of certain orders to the organization.

For an order to qualify, those ordering need to present the fundraiser flyer, Britton said. It will also not include alcoholic purchases.

“It’s the day before Valentine’s Day,” she said. “If you want to avoid the rush, you can get out the night before.”

The fundraiser is one of many held by the organization in an effort to raise money for a new historical museum in Huntley, Britton said.

The group’s biggest partner in the past has been the Culver’s in Huntley, which has donated a portion of every order from 4 to 8 p.m. during various fundraisers, Britton said. It also let the society set up a display in the restaurant. The last one was held in December.

The effort has been an ongoing one for a few years now, Huntley Historical Society Co-President Jake Marino said. He said it’s been “slow-going” as the organization tries to get the resources and support necessary to make the museum happen.

“We haven’t given up, and we haven’t lost hope on it,” Marino said. “There’s been some movement in the last few years.”

The society has about $20,000 currently, Britton said. But with insurance and fees associated with being a nonprofit, along with other bills, that money can fluctuate. It’s also not yet known how much money the society might need to make the museum a reality.

To help with this, the society partnered with the Huntley Park District, which is leasing to the society the old farmhouse where museum could go, Britton said. The farmhouse was built in the 19th century and is landmarked by the McHenry County Historic Preservation Commission.

Due to its status, the district is limited in how it can change the building, Britton said.

A consultant will need to be hired to give both the park district and the historical society an idea of what work will need to go into the building and how much it could cost, Huntley Park District Executive Director Scott Crowe said.

“We’re trying to figure out how to make this a working museum and how we’re going to fund it,” Crowe said.

The park district is in the process of going through its master planning, part of which will see more details ironed out on what to do with the building, Crowe said. The historical society was part of that planning process too, along with other consultants in recent months.

Beyond the actual work on the building, other projects include setting up displays, interior improvements, setting up a computer and archival work, Britton said.

The board hopes to apply for a grant as well too, Britton said, with deadlines set for later in the year. To do this, it will receive some help from the park district.

The society also hasn’t decided yet what exhibits might go in the museum, Britton said.

“Our collection is stored in a few places around town,” Britton said. “There’s never enough room.”

The importance of the museum is something both Britton and Marino emphasized, with Britton saying a place people can visit to view local history is needed in the community.

It’s also valuable from the perspective of the historical society, Marino said. Up to this point, the society has existed via a website, but has not had a physical place to show itself.

“Outside of [online], there isn’t a huge amount to really show that we exist,” Marino said. “That’s been a problem for a while. With the museum, it’s a tangible place where people passing by will know we’re here, and there’s a group that cares about preserving Huntley.”

Huntley's Historical Society are asking people to present this flyer when ordering at Lou Malnati's in Lakewood on Feb. 13, 2023, as it will provide donations for the organization to open up a museum.
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