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.

Please note that the three month period that Gary Dollar refers to in the video will start when we have word of approval from Principia about future proceedings.

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.

Eliestoun Milestones and Logo


Things have been very active for the Friends of Eliestoun Board in the last few months. We would love to share some of the highlights with you.

  • We selected a logo for Eliestoun from the many submissions we received.
    • We appreciated all the entries and had a tough time choosing. The winning submission is from Brad Cornelius. Thank you, Brad! We are in the process of having 11 x 16 prints made, though the price for them has not yet been set. Please email and let us know if you’d be interested in purchasing one.
  • We met Milestone 2.
    • Milestone 2 is a budget for restoration of the building envelope (roof, siding, windows, doors, cornices, etc.) and maintenance of existing interior heating and cooling systems sufficient to maintain climate control. Our original due date for this Milestone was December 31, 2015. We exercised a 30-day extension and presented the milestone to Principia on January 29, 2016.
  • What we’re working on now:
    • We are forming an Advisory Panel made up of people who love Eliestoun and want to offer their expertise. These areas include but are not limited to: Financial/Fundraising, PR/Marketing, Legal, Accounting, Grant Research and Writing, Eco-Tourism, Corporate Interest, Local Elsah Business Interest; Historic Preservation, Network Development, Experiential Education, Continuing Education. The purpose of the Advisory Panel is to act as a select and continuing “brain trust” to receive, offer and vet ideas and to advise Friends of Eliestoun Board and its consultants towards achieving our goal.
    • Our next milestone requires the presentation of the program idea by March 10th. The program idea includes what will take place both in and around Eliestoun that will generate income. The Advisory Panel will help with this, to see that it is feasible, flexible, and sustainable over the life of the lease.

It has been exciting to progress toward completing the Feasibility Study. We will be in touch shortly after completing the next milestone.

Eliestoun Highest and Best Use Community Meeting Summary

Friends of Eliestoun convened a community meeting on November 23rd in Principia College’s dining room. All students, faculty, staff, and the public were invited to attend and participate. We heard a brief history of Eliestoun and met Jeff Clark and Jay Simon of Metropolitan Build, the St. Louis firm we are working with. We then broke out into sessions on specific Eliestoun topic areas: Income Generation, Estate Grounds, Residential Uses, and Place of Assembly. The whole meeting was recorded and can be found here. If you want just the summary of the meeting, beginning with the results of the breakout session, please go to this link. Parts of the recording may be difficult to hear because of the usual dining room noise.

There were about 50 attendees at the meeting, including a handful of students who came and went depending on their academic, athletic, and social schedules. Most participants were interested alumni and local adults involved in preservation.

Two more focus group meetings are scheduled for January of 2016, one in Elsah, and one in a location to be determined.

Friends of Eliestoun is on track to meet the upcoming milestones for Principia. The next includes a budget for preservation of the exterior and basic functions of Eliestoun by December 31, 2015.

In 2010, Principia’s Pastry Chef, David Wiseheart, made a to-scale gingerbread Eliestoun. Here is a photo of his work.

If you would like to make a tax deductible donation, you are always welcome to do this online or you may mail it to us at Friends of Eliestoun, PO Box 35, Elsah, IL 62028.

We are moving forward nicely and are looking forward to each progressive step to save Eliestoun.

Invitation to Community Meeting for Eliestoun

We are excited to invite you to discuss Eliestoun in a community meeting at Principia College on Monday, November 23, from 5:30-7:15 p.m. in the Dining Room.

The purpose of this meeting is to listen to you — students, faculty, staff, and other supporters in the community — to hear the highest and best proposed uses of Eliestoun. We welcome you and your ideas for the future of Eliestoun. The firm we’ve hired to assist with the drawings and Feasibility Study, Metropolitan Build of St. Louis, will be on hand to introduce themselves, to update us on progress with their efforts, and to introduce the evening’s discussion. If you would like to share your thoughts via email, we welcome your input. But if you attend the meeting, you will be able to hear first-hand the comments of others.

This meeting is a vital part of the Feasibility Study in progress — your ideas and enthusiasm are needed.

Hope to see you in the Principia College Dining Room at 5:30pm on Monday, November 23rd!