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Letters to the Editor

Historical group seeks donations for roof repairs

Manlius Historical Society oversees famed bank building

The Manlius Historical Society is hoping to raise enough funds to replace the deteriorating roof of the 100-year-old historic First State Bank building and Museum in Manlius, which was designed by Parker N. Berry of Princeton.
The Manlius Historical Society is hoping to raise enough funds to replace the deteriorating roof of the 100-year-old historic First State Bank building and Museum in Manlius, which was designed by Parker N. Berry of Princeton.

We need your help!

The Manlius Historical Society is hoping to raise enough funds to replace the deteriorating roof of the 100-year-old historic First State Bank building and museum in Manlius.

Quotes for a new roof have come in at nearly $25,000, which will deplete our entire bank account. We have spent little money since we purchased the building in 2002 on fixes to the structure of the building. In the past, our focus had been on the refurbishing of the interior, which was completed in 2016.

We are also seeking bids to repair deteriorating exterior brick/stucco covered caps and walls in order to prevent moisture from leaking into the interior walls and causing further damage.

It is imperative at this time that we get the roof and stucco repair work completed in order to preserve all the hard work we have done to the interior.

The Society’s main source of income has been an annual drawdown, with periodic matching funds, donations from a few generous donors, appeal letters and lifetime memberships. With your support, no matter how large or small, we can preserve this historic building for future generations and display the rich history of Manlius and surrounding area.

Monetary donations may be sent to Manlius Historical Society, P.O. Box 134, Manlius, IL 61338-0134.

We are a nonprofit with a 501(c)(3) status. Your contribution is tax deductible. We also have set up a GoFundMe account. Type in: gofundme.com, click on “Search,” below that type “Manlius, IL,” click on “Raise the Roof,” click on donate.

In 1914, a young and aspiring architect, Parker Noble Berry, who had grown up in Princeton, was commissioned to design a new, modern facility to be located at 122 E. Maple Ave. in Manlius. Parker was well known as one of the most esteemed architects of the Prairie School style, having studied under Louis Sullivan, a well-known Chicago architect. Parker became his chief draftsman from 1909 to 1917.

Parker N. Berry’s father, John W. Berry, was the contractor who built the building that opened in 1915. Parker died Dec 16, 1918, in Princeton at age 30 of pneumonia. The bank failed and closed in the Great Depression in March 1933.

The building was acquired by the First National Bank in 1933. Except for being used for a few years as an office and for storage, it basically sat empty until 2001.

The Manlius Historical Society was incorporated on Oct. 31, 2001, and was organized “to enhance educational opportunities in the community by preserving a local building with a unique style of architecture and developing the site into a public museum.”

The Manlius Historical Society purchased the building on April 9, 2002. The First State Bank building was entered into the National Register of Historic Places in 1975 because of the architect, Parker Noble Berry, and the fact that it is the only unaltered Berry-designed commercial building still standing.

Major renovations started about 2005 with repairs to exterior side walls and brick front. A structural report was done in 2007. Major work began inside with repairs to plaster, painting of interior walls, rewiring of inside, staining cherry wood beams and side walls, etc.

Several of our members donated hundreds of hours and refurbished the inside back to its original state, thus saving the society many thousands of dollars. Ed Behrens donated his time and rebuilt the cherry wood teller cages that had been removed.

A complete remodeling of the second floor was started in 2013 and finished in 2015. Thirty-five pictures were chosen from early Manlius businesses and the surrounding area and made into canvas prints. They hang in the second-floor museum and are a beautiful addition that brings early Manlius days back to life.

Many other donated items and memorabilia are on display along with a copy of three original line drawings of the First State Bank by architect Parker N. Berry, which Mark Glafka was able to obtain from the Art Institute of Chicago in 2009.

Come and visit the beautiful architecture inside and out! We are open May through October on Thursdays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., or you can make an appointment by calling Bob Andersen, president, at 815-713-0251 or email him at reandersen3738@yahoo.com or call Barb Bolin, secretary-treasurer, at 815-454-2532.

Thank you in advance for your donation, which will help us to achieve our goal for the major exterior work needed.

Note to readers: Pat Glafka is the former Pat Andersen, a member of the Manlius High School Class of 1956.

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