Eliestoun at Thanksgiving 2022

We have just finished a beautiful Thanksgiving weekend. This gives us an opportunity to review our blessings from the past year regarding Eliestoun:

  • We are grateful for the continued interest in Eliestoun and its place in Elsah and Principia history.
  • We are grateful for College President John Williams’ support of the Eliestoun project by approving funds for bringing water to the site and providing heating in the building, as well as other improvements.
  • We are grateful for the progress we have made on the main floor of the home. Ceilings have been scraped and painted, woodwork cleaned and renewed, a fireplace restored, and the main entranceway off of the driveway rebuilt.
  • We are grateful we were able to open the home and give tours to interested people during Summer Session, both Alumni Weekends, and Homecoming. Many people really appreciated the opportunity to see the interior of this gracious and lovely home.
  • We are grateful that a brief article on Eliestoun will be included in the next Historic Elsah Foundation newsletter, Issue 121.
  • We are grateful for your continued support of our project. It is hard to believe that we began this project eight years ago, but we continue to be hopeful about the future of this property.

You also surely have many blessings for which to be thankful. Thank you for staying attuned to our project. We wish you a happy and blessed holiday season.

Friends of Eliestoun

July 2021 Update

Dear Eliestoun enthusiasts,

It has been quite a while since we contacted you. Please know that we at Friends of Eliestoun have quietly continued to work and pray to keep the renovation of the Eliestoun house and grounds moving forward.

The first update for you is that the Principia Board of Trustees has not yet approved a major renovation. However, we are very happy to report that some outside work has been done, and a small group of volunteers has been allowed to work on the interior first floor. We are cautiously optimistic as we realize that all the efforts to date could prove pointless if the Board does not eventually approve the project. We ask for your continued prayerful support of a right resolution, whatever that may be. We know that whatever blesses one, blesses all.

Principia has provided safety equipment and many supplies, and Friends of Eliestoun has contributed tools and materials, as well as volunteers on most weekends for the last year – for a total of approximately 400 hours.

For those of us who have been cherishing the idea of renovating Eliestoun, what has been accomplished in the last year is nothing short of amazing. Here is a list of achievements, plus some items currently in process:

  • Eliestoun was reconnected to city water.
  • The half bath on the main floor is now usable.
  • The kitchen sinks both have running water.
  • The area around the front (roadside) door has been brought back as close as possible to its original state.
    • All paint has been removed down to the original wood, sanded, repaired, primed, and repainted the closest to the original color as we could match. 
    • The Dutch door is now fully functional.
    • Shingle siding has been replaced on this section of the building.
    • Four leaded windows have been completely rebuilt and reinstalled.
  • The carpeting has been removed on the lower level and the staircase, including hand removal of the glued and stapled carpet padding that did not come up with the carpet.
  • The wall of the house that is in the corner where the outside downspouts had damaged the wall, has been repaired, in addition to the inside wall in the staircase at this area.
  • Temporary longer downspouts have been added to take water away from the house.
  • A positive ground level has been created against the house so that water will flow away from the building.
  • Latex paint has been scraped from the library ceiling and back hallway walls.
  • Ceilings on the main floor are being painted.
  • The main floor wood paneling has been washed down, and we are now repairing and refinishing it.
  • Lead paint has been removed from the dining room plaster walls and cabinet doors and drawers, and the walls are being prepared for painting.
  • A special primer that will allow paint to adhere to the older plaster walls is being applied to the back hallway and library ceiling.
  • The center fireplace has been uncovered, and the brick and mortar are being repaired.
  • Holes in that center fireplace hearth have been repaired, filled in, and painted to match the deep burgundy tile color.
  • A temporary furnace has been installed to help prevent pipes from freezing in the winter.

Friends of Eliestoun is deeply grateful for the progress that has taken place. We thank Principia for making this possible – by providing materials, for labor performed, and for permission to allow volunteers to work on the building.

Warmly, The Friends of Eliestoun

Eliestoun Update: New Fence

During Christmas break, Principia installed, at its expense, an eight-foot-high security fence, set in concrete, around the perimeter of the main Eliestoun building. We on the Board of Friends of Eliestoun understand that the fencing will serve to protect community members and also secure the structure from potential damage by trespassers.

We have offered to have an evaluation made to identify the most immediate needs to preserve the building, with a focus on the shell, and we are ready to support this endeavor financially. We know that the Principia administrators have multiple projects that make compelling demands on their time. However, we are optimistic that we will receive a response to our offer shortly.

Japanese Maple Tree Work – Phase Two

Ben Chu, an expert craftsman from Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, installed special supports for the Japanese maple tree at Eliestoun.

This completes the work begun earlier by Skip Kincaid and his crew from Hansen’s Tree Service of O’Fallon, Missouri.

Special thanks to Diane and Monte Powell who generously funded this preservation effort, stemming from their love for Eliestoun. This video was funded from an anonymous donor who shares their appreciation for Eliestoun and its grounds.

Japanese Maple Tree Work – Phase One

Friends of Eliestoun presents our video of an exciting event that took place on October 19th – pruning of the Japanese maple tree on the grounds of Eliestoun. Skip Kincaid (Director of Urban Forestry at Hansen’s Tree Service, O’Fallon, Missouri) and his crew spent several hours that day doing this work. Two generous donors, Diane and Monte Powell, prompted this because of their love for Eliestoun and appreciation of this special tree. Another donor lovingly and anonymously provided funds to create and share with you the video we’ve included here, plus another that will come later. Thanks so much to the pruning team, to the donors, to Larry Charlston for recording the activity, to Principia for granting permission to do this – and to you. Enjoy the video!

The other video that will be coming shows another important part of the tree preservation project – supporting the heavy branches of the Japanese maple tree. Ben Chu, a highly skilled craftsman in charge of the Japanese gardens at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, did that work.

Japanese Maple Tree at Eliestoun, and More

Thank you for your patience while we continue to make progress – where and when we can – with the effort to preserve Eliestoun. At this time, Principia’s administration is continuing to work to reach an agreement with Friends of Eliestoun. Meanwhile, Principia remains responsible for emergency repairs. And we still expect that the effort to renovate Eliestoun will move forward.

There is progress of a different sort that we are happy to report to you. A selfless and generous donor, who cares deeply for Eliestoun, has agreed to fund rehabilitation of the Japanese maple tree. This historic and majestic tree, familiar to many Principia alumni and friends, is noted for its longevity and stunning color. We contacted the Missouri Botanical Garden and had some experts examine the tree and assess issues that these trees face. Work will include pruning to remove dead wood, and installation of supports for several main branches. We are grateful to the donor and look forward to enjoying this lovely tree for many years to come.

This summer, two severe storms passed through this area, the last of which caused a great deal of damage to trees on the Eliestoun property, even closing the road to vehicle and foot traffic for a month. But we are happy to report that the buildings suffered no serious damage. And none of the historic and notable trees appeared damaged. Also, a large group of Principia School students helped to clear the debris.

The photo above is the Japanese maple tree in bloom a few years ago. The photo below shows the same tree today, and its proximity to Eliestoun.

We look forward to sharing updates about the main project when possible. In the meantime, we appreciate your continued prayerful support for the project.

Friends of Eliestoun

Love inspires, illumines, designates, and leads the way. Right motives give pinions to thought, and strength and freedom to speech and action. Love is priestess at the altar of Truth. Wait patiently for divine Love to move upon the waters of mortal mind, and form the perfect concept. Patience must “have her perfect work.”

Science and Health, p.454:18

Alumni Weekend Video on Eliestoun

We are pleased to share with you the video produced at the Principia College Reunion July 2, 2016 to a packed room of over 100 individuals. You will meet our Friends of Eliestoun president Helen Wills, our colleagues at Metropolitan Build, and our fundraising expert Gary Dollar. The video, which is about an hour long, includes an excellent timeline of Eliestoun, beginning with its centuries-old origins, presented by graphic artist Kristin Serafini. We thank Larry Charlston for his professional production of this video.

[Our apologies, but the video has been removed.]

Milestone #4 Complete

Good news – we met Milestone #4, which was a 23-page Initial Concept set of drawings produced by Cohen Hilberry Architects of St. Louis. Included were: diagrams for fire rating, acoustic and demolition; initial concept drawings for the site, plans for each floor of the manor plus the basement and roof, building elevations of each side, finish floor plans and a detailed schedule for repairing windows. The small field office was also included.

The final Milestone #5 is due to Principia at the end of this week. It will include a full program description as well as funding plans. Our Advisory Panel and Development Group discussed the program idea of ecotourism, which expanded to an Eliestoun Preserve – involving architectural history, sustainability, and conservation. This concept allows Friends of Eliestoun to apply as a not-for-profit for federal and state grants, as well as for funding from various foundations. The board feels that a large portion of funding can be obtained from these types of grants.

There are a number of ways you can help the project as we prepare for the presentation,. We hope you’ll jump on board with us!

First, it would be a huge help to have your prayerful support. The board has focused on the unlimited nature of Love, and the fact that a right idea comes with the supply for that idea. Nothing that we are doing can take away from the Love and supply needed for Principia and its many worthwhile projects.

Second, immediate funds are needed to complete the final milestone with Principia, prior to securing our lease of Eliestoun. We have in place an active matching gift of $5,000, and we’d love to meet it. All donations will be doubled. Please consider donating now.

Third, please know that we will soon request letters of support to Principia in the 90 days after the final milestone is presented. We could use one from you! These will be “official” letters (not just casual emails), addressed to Douglas Gibbs, Principia College, Elsah, IL, but sent to friendsofeliestoun@gmail.com (or mailed to Friends of Eliestoun, PO Box 35, Elsah, IL 62028). If you choose to write, your letter should include your name and address and state why you believe the Friends of Eliestoun should be allowed to renew and revitalize the Eliestoun estate. Please be thinking of what you would like to say. We will contact everyone with another email when we are ready for the letters of support.

The board wants to thank those who have taken time to attend the Advisory Panel and Development Committee sessions through GoToMeeting. Thanks, too, to those who have followed the proceedings through the minutes of those meetings. Your input, insight and enthusiasm are deeply appreciated and have helped move the project forward. If you are not yet actively involved and would like to be – we invite you!

We have a meeting tonight, Tuesday, April 26, with our Advisory Panel, again from 6 to 8pm Central Time. Please let us know if you are interested in attending (in person or online), and we will send you more information.

Thank you in advance for your prayerful support and for considering what you might include in your (future) letter of support.

Milestone #3 Met

We have met Milestone #3 with Principia. This included space-use diagrams for each floor of Eliestoun, demonstrating an arrangement of residential suites on the second and third floors with a design of the first floor to accommodate formal or casual assemblies. Viewing the plans for the first time was a moment when the potential of this historic building shone again.

Our last update showed the artwork by Brad Cornelius, and now we are ready to begin selling this beautiful representation of Eliestoun as a poster. The posters are 15 inches by 23.5 inches on heavy stock paper. They will brighten a room, revive memories of Eliestoun, and show the promise of what can be its revitalization today. As part of our fundraising effort, they are for sale on our website for $40. That price includes shipping and handling inside the United States. They will be sent in a mailing tube. If you would like to make a donation that exceeds the price of the poster, a letter can be mailed to you, if requested, confirming the portion of your donation that is tax-deductible. We are happy to provide one. You may order posters now.

Meanwhile, some friends have offered a new matching challenge of $5,000. We are pleased and grateful. This will help toward paying the many expenses we are incurring, including the firm we are working with, our professional fundraiser, our tax accountant, and our website. Three of us were part of a rummage sale on Saturday, March 5, resulting in donations totaling $140. We’re trying to help. Can you help, too?

Entering the next phases of our effort to preserve Eliestoun, we are seeking to expand our Board of Directors and to create a Development Committee. If you are willing and able to serve, particularly in a capacity on the Development Committee, both friend-raising and fund-raising, we would love to hear from you. We also would appreciate any contact information you have for other people who might serve in this capacity.

Thursday, March 24, we will be meeting on the St. Louis Principia campus from 6–8pm Central Time with our newly-formed Advisory Panel and our newly-selected professional fundraiser. You are welcome to join us by conference call. We can send you more information if you let us know that you are interested.

Always feel free to share names and thoughts with friendsofeliestoun@gmail.com.

Thank you, all, for your prayers and other efforts to help in this grand project.