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Save the Jefferson  Home

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The Des Plaines Chapter of the Izaak Walton League and the City of Des Plaines presents:
An Outdoor Makerspace & Environmental Education Center at Algonquin Woods Forest Preserve.
With your help, we can create a one-of-a-kind Center in the heart of Cook County.

What will The Center do?

  • Provide an Outdoor Makerspace to teach the public how to do more with less 

  • Serve as an innovation hub for nature conservation, historic preservation, and environmental stewardship that honors the past, embraces the present, and models the future.

  • Showcase innovative talent, technologies & designs that support a healthy clean energy future.

  • Host engaging activities and events that support nature conservation, outdoor recreation, and historic preservation

  • Preserve, restore & re-purpose a rare, unique 100+year-old historic urban oasis to serve as an eco-lab for conservation, preservation, restoration, and environmental activism.

Preserve the Environment

  • Provide a permanent exhibit space for green methodologies.

Preserve History

  • Restore the historic Jefferson House

The Vision

​The Izaak Walton League proposes to establish the Environmental Education Center and Outdoor Makerspace at Algonquin Woods Forest Preserve, home to the historical site of Jefferson Home.


The Education Center and Makerspace will be located in the historically significant Jefferson Home, a two-story, brick-frame facility that will be restored and repurposed. The Center will house an Environmental Education Center for film screenings, and nature-based education activities, events, and fundraisers.  The grounds will feature gardens and an Outdoor Makerspace to include a workshop and art studio. 

The site is surrounded by native oak savannahs, prairie, and wetlands, conveniently located 10 minutes from O'Hare International Airport.

The Challenge

Since 1929, the building and grounds of the 1850s Jefferson Home has been maintained by the Izaak Walton League caretakers, and are in need of repairs. The main building needs new windows, ceiling, wall, flooring and foundation repair; and utility updates, including electrical, plumbing, and HVAC. These repairs will ensure the Jefferson Home will stand for another 100 years to show how nature inspires and history informs.


The Project

Repurpose the Jefferson Home and grounds to inspire the next generation to nurture nature and preserve history.  It is anticipated that renovations will be completed in late 2025. In order to meet this goal, $2 million must be raised.

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