DuPage County Historical Museum Renovation Complete

Margie Wilhelmi
Marketing Director, Wheaton Park District
630.510.4984| [email protected]


WHEATON—Restoration of the DuPage County Historical Museum’s masonry and gutters, a project funded by a $750,000 Illinois Department of Natural Resources grant, is complete. The building’s auditorium and Inside History Gallery reopened. The auditorium’s look remains unchanged.

The historic 1891 building located at 102 E. Wesley Street, Wheaton, houses historical exhibits, artifacts and archives that tell the story of the county’s history. The project included masonry stabilization and gutter restoration.

The grant was issued through the IDNR’s Museum Capital Grant Program. This program funds public museum projects to restore historic buildings or build new exhibits. The Museum received this grant in 2021. The Museum is operated by the Wheaton Park District while being owned by the County of DuPage through an intergovernmental agreement. Restoration projects always including both the park district and the county in planning and execution.

“The building is an important part of the county’s history as one of the first libraries in the county. It currently houses more than 40,000 artifacts telling DuPage County history,” said Michelle Podkowa, Museum Manager and Educator. “This project was coordinated through a team that the county put together. WSP USA Inc. as the architect, Carsello Engineering Inc. as the structural engineers, and Berglund Construction completed the work with county and park district staff overseeing the project. The team fully understood the historic nature of the building and the project had two experts in preservation on it – one from the architect and one from the construction company – to ensure that the historic integrity of the building was considered when creating the designs for structural reinforcement needed for the masonry repair.”

“Berglund specializes in historic restoration and preservation and this project is exactly the type of work we love to do because it’s both complex and delicate. The project required reworking of structural supports and meticulous restoration of wood trim on the building interior, while on the exterior our masons reset large decorative pieces of limestone and replicated the historic tooled mortar joints, working closely with our skilled roofer, Waukegan Roofing, who made repairs to the copper gutters, with all the work being completed sensitively to ensure the historic integrity was preserved, “ said Sarah Horton, Preservation Manager with Berglund Construction. “This work requires a lot of planning and skill but thanks to the entire team, the project was a success and aids in preserving the building for future generations.”

“I was particularly impressed with Berglund’s attention to detail and their care in protecting our historic building,” said Podkowa.

Berglund Construction was awarded the contract by the county after the company’s successful bid. Work began after the conclusion of summer camps and necessitated the temporary closure of the auditorium and the Inside History gallery. Both the auditorium and gallery are now open. The “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” exhibit opened in the Inside History gallery November 29.

“The much-needed building repairs to the DuPage County Historical Museum, enabled by this generous grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, will allow county residents and visitors to continue benefitting greatly from the Museum’s exemplary programs and exhibits for years to come,” said Mike Benard, executive director of the Wheaton Park District.

Several interesting items from the past were recovered during the construction process. Among the finds were a Mercury dime, which ceased production in 1945, a Sugar Babies wrapper that appears to be from the 1960s, books, photographs, a bookmark and library punch cards.

The Wheaton Park District would like to thank the community and all of those instrumental in helping to secure this grant funding, especially the County of DuPage, Judy Beaver, president of the Wheaton chapter of the League of Women Voters; David Thiel, of the DuPage County Historical Museum Foundation; Vickie Austin, president of the Wheaton Chamber of Commerce; and Becky Adamowski, director of the Wheaton Public Library.