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Rockland Students Raise Funds for Cook House Restoration

Libertyville Elementary students created stationery with their interpretation of the Cook House to raise funds for Paint the Town Foundation.

Updated March 8

Stationery with art of the Ansel B. Cook House are now sold at How Impressive!., 326 N. Milwaukee Ave., or can be purchased by contacting Cindi Sartain at: csartain@d70schools.org

Original Story

 students hope to raise $3,000 toward the restoration of Ansel B. Cook House by selling stationery with art of the historic structure. All proceeds will benefit Paint the Town Foundation, a nonprofit working to restore the exterior of the building.

 art teacher Cindi Sartain created the outline of the painting and had her art class fill in the painting with their memories of Cook House. The stationery is sold to parents of the students, but if it sells well, the nonprofit will consider selling it in Libertyville stores.

“These were two twins that go to lunch in the park with their mother; they drew a blue blanket in the painting because that was significant for them,” said Libertyville resident Mike Foley, who co-founded the nonprofit.

Co-founder Roch Tranel, owner of  in Libertyville, says they formed the nonprofit to create a conduit for fundraising.

“Our hope was that through just having good conversations with the local community and other service organizations, that people would just step up and it wouldn’t be this difficult daunting task,” Tranel said.

Community Fundraising

The foundation has no formal “game plans” Tranel said, but so far the community has rallied behind the cause. Libertyville firefighters have pledged to host a poker tournament to benefit the nonprofit, discussions are under way to host a potential art exhibition with works relating to Cook House and Libertyville.

Residents with fundraising suggestions can submit them via the nonprofit’s Facebook page, or donate online.

“We’ve been blessed with a lot of people stepping up,” Tranel said. “Libertyville Civic Center has stepped up with a $5,000 matching grant.”

The donation could be from a collection of individuals or a single donation — either way, if the grant is matched, the foundation would be halfway toward its goal of raising some $20,000 to restore the historic building.

Paint the Town Foundation

In April 2011, the village approached Foley, owner of DiVinci Painters in Highland Park, to provide an estimate on the cost of restoring Cook House.

Foley says the 134-year-old structure was in disarray with mold, mildew, water seeping inside, metal rusting, stucco opening up, wood rotting and vines growing all over the structure.

The project is estimated to cost some $50,000, but the village would not have the budget for restoration until a few years later.

“I realized this is a project that really can’t wait,” said Foley, a 20-year-resident of Libertyville.

He reached out to his friend Tranel and shared the idea of taking care of the historic site on behalf of the town.

“I called Roch and asked if this is something he would be interested in, and he said ‘Absolutely, let’s get behind this,’ ” Foley said.

Paying It Forward

In December 2011, the Village Board authorized the foundation to raise funds and paint the exterior of Cook House, which Ansel B. Cook donated to the village for use as a library.

“We are taking his legacy and moving it forward,” Foley said. “He could have sold the property, he could have done what most people would have, but he didn’t.”

For a detailed history of the Ansel B. Cook House, read , or visit Libertyville-Mundelein Historical Society.

Apart from fundraising, Foley’s company will be restoring the building without making a profit. In addition, Foley reached out to paint company Benjamin Moore, which has agreed to donate paint for the restoration. Other businesses also have agreed to donate supplies, materials and a lift.

The foundation’s efforts have reduced the project cost from $50,000 to some $20,000, which will cover the labor of painting and restoration.

Restoration plans are scheduled for early May with the goal of completing the project within six weeks.

Preserving History

The foundation hopes that with the restoration, it also can prevent further damage to historic documents stored in the Cook House.

For the duo, the historic structure plays an important part of their lives as Libertyville residents and is what makes Libertyville great.

“My daughter participated in a beauty pageant about two years ago on the steps of the Cook House,” Foley said.

“It’s an important figure for the lighting of the Christmas tree, Thanksgiving holiday and summers in the park,” Tranel said. “It’s a crown jewel of Libertyville.”

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