AMBOY – The Amboy Depot Museum has entered into partnership with the Starved Rock Country Community Foundation, an entity that promotes historical preservation, the foundation announced on Wednesday afternoon.
This is the foundation’s first project in Lee County. Its 70 other endeavors have been in La Salle, Putnam or Bureau counties.
The foundation established two funds with the Amboy Depot Commission. Together the funds are $125,000.
The initial donations were made by an Amboy family that wished to be anonymous and other contributors, the foundation said.
George Carizey, president of the foundation, said: “These are the kinds of wonderful stories we hear at the community foundation, and it’s heartwarming to partner with so many people who care about what matters in their community.”
Both funds were created to attract financial contributions to support the museum’s current expenses and to ensure that it continues through an endowment fund.
A family connection led to the partnership. It was Kenneth McCracken, who as Amboy’s mayor founded the depot commission in 1973, which led to making it a museum as part of a bicentennial project in 1976. The late state Sen. David Shapiro also worked on the project.
Shapiro’s daughter, Peggy Shapiro Horstman, reached out to the foundation. She learned then that McCracken’s son, Jay, now a Hennepin resident, had served as first chairman of the foundation.
“Peggy was excited to reconnect with her former Amboy classmate, and learn of Jay’s role with us,” said Pamela Beckett, founder of the foundation.
The relationship was cemented as Horstman learned that Reed Wilson, vice chairman of the foundation, was a former classmate of hers at the University of Illinois.
The depot was built in 1876 and served the north-south line of the Illinois Central Railroad, from Cairo to East Dubuque. [A previous depot on the site was built in 1954 but was destroyed by fire.] The depot served as a hotel and as a division headquarters. It was eventually scaled back and closed in 1967 when its last station agent died. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1992. A major renovation led to the museum’s reopening in 2003.
According to the foundation, the commission needs $650,000 for restoration and repairs.