“Abe’s Million” will be a yearlong effort by the foundation, with
the goal of raising $1 million.
Martin began by explaining that the courthouse foundation was formed
in 2011 with the intent of continually raising money for the upkeep
of the courthouse.
He noted that the courthouse is a state historic site, but with the
dire financial conditions of the state of Illinois, funding for
state historic sites have not been enough to keep the courthouse
In 2011, the foundation was formed by local people who see the
courthouse in the town square every day, and are proud that it is
there. They want the courthouse to continue to be a vital part of
the town, as well as an important part of our county and state
"We consider this a National Treasure, it’s not just Mount
Pulaski’s," he said. "But when it’s in our town square, and we see
it every day, we see the problems that are going on. We’ve taken
upon ourselves, that it is our mission to be the ones on point to
take care of the courthouse and make sure the rest of the nation and
the world knows what is going on here.”
When the foundation was formed, there was a “to do” list that
included repairing some window sills and doing some painting and
other miscellaneous repairs.
However, in December of 2013, the vision of the foundation changed.
It was as the courthouse was preparing for Christmas that one
volunteer noticed a crack in the ceiling in the upstairs courtroom.
Martin said investigating the crack it was discovered that the roof
support system of the building was failing. He said that the roof
was last replaced back in the 1940’s.
“So," he said, "all of the sudden, instead of just fixing windows
and fixing doors, our problem, our mission became large.”
As a result the foundation took on the mission of raising $1 million
dollars for the courthouse. He noted that the money was going to be
raised through gifts and fundraisers and also grants. The goal is
for the foundation to raise $750,000 with another $250,000 in
Martin said he knew $1 million was a big number for a small
community. That is why, the foundation is reaching out, not just
locally but around the world, drawing attention to the need.
Martin pointed out that in the courtroom the ceiling was in need of
repair, and the paint was peeling from the walls. He said there was
a moisture problem inside the building but at the moment adding new
paint would not solve the problem.
He explained that years back, the exterior of the courthouse was
painted. The paint looks nice, but the problem is the paint used
sealed the porous nature of the brick, so there is no wicking of
moisture. He said that until that problem is solved, the moisture
damage inside the building will continue.
So, not only is there a need for a new roof, there is a need solve
the paint problem on the exterior. When those tasks are completed,
the interior of the building can then be restored.
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He said that the Foundation is aware that doing a complete
renovation all at once would be costly but would also save money
in the long run by not piecemealing the work.
He shared that the foundation has printed material available
about the fundraising efforts. He told the group, “What we need
for you to do is, if you can donate money, fantastic, and if you
can spread the word, fantastic.”
Martin also reported that the Foundation has more money than one
might expect. To date, the coffers total approximately $340,000.
He noted that the foundation received a large endowment,
$250,000 from the estate of Waldo and Rosalie Bertoni in
December of 2013.
The Foundation also benefited from the fundraising efforts of
the Mount Pulaski Grade School Third Grade Class of 2013. The
class stunned the community and earned the respect and
admiration of many when in 2013 the kids decided to raise money
to give to the foundation. The result was in April of that year;
the class presented the Foundation with a check for just over
With the creation of the Abe’s Million project, the foundation
has hosted their first fundraiser of the year already. On
January 24th, the Foundation hosted a dinner and musical
entertainment event at the Old Brickyard Grill and Pub in Mount
Pulaski. Along with a great meal, guests were treated to music
from the Millikin University Faculty Jazz Band, and a silent
auction was held. At the end of the evening, the foundation
reported it had raised more than $4,000 for Abe’s Million.
Martin concluded that there will be other fundraising events
throughout this year. He then said that in 2016, the foundation
would take whatever it has raised and start working on the
restoration of the Courthouse.
The Courthouse Foundation has its own website;
There one can read about the history of the courthouse, learn of
future events being planned, and make donations through an
online donation page.