Falling insulation in the east half of the 201 South Lafayette Street building which houses the museum’s collection

The Western Illinois Museum Board of Directors, staff, and volunteers would like to update you on our plans to renovate the building which houses the museum and its collection. Over the last few months we have been working to find a solution to a potentially hazardous situation in the storage area of the building.  Through a partnership with the City of Macomb, who owns the building, we are ready to take steps to improve the insulation in the east side of the building.

Before the museum opened its doors in the building known as the “old Ford garage,” the west half of the building was renovated to provide offices for the Macomb Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, a library for the McDonough County Genealogical Society and an exhibit space for the museum.  A new roof on the entire building was also necessary and completed when the doors opened in 2002. The east half of the building however, remains much like it was when built in 1941.  With its bow trusses, large windows, and garage doors it is an excellent example of a warehouse structure of the time.  Many people have memories of the Ford dealership that was located in the building and our efforts are twofold: to improve the conditions for our collection, and to ensure that this historic building and its significant architectural features are preserved.

A Plan to Improve the Facility

Professor Bill Suter with students from the Western Illinois Construction Management Association
Professor Bill Suter (center) with students from the Western Illinois Construction Management Association

With the support of the City of Macomb and contributions from museum supporters, we are ready to begin work on the next phase of the renovation plan. In April we will remove and replace the insulation in the east side of the building.  To keep the unique wooden bow trusses exposed, a spray insulation will be used to replace the deteriorating and falling fiberglass sheets. The Western Illinois Construction Association, a WIU student organization, has agreed to work at no cost, in partnership with museum volunteers to remove the existing insulation.  This presents an opportunity to remedy a potentially hazardous situation at a substantial cost saving.  Under the supervision of WIU Professor William Suter, they will gain professional experience and provide a benefit to the community.  Habitat for Humanity will re-purpose any insulation that is usable.  Jack Laverdiere has also agreed to provide the needed equipment for the project at no cost. The museum’s directors are encouraged by each of these partnerships, and believe this is an opportune time to move forward with the second phase of the renovation plan.  (See our outline of the six phase renovation plan)

Since the museum moved to downtown Macomb and became a non-profit, we have relied on community support.  Our roster of over 400 members, who make annual contributions, are essential to our work of preserving our region’s treasures. Many of these people have been long-time contributors who hold steadfast the vision of what the museum provides for our community.  As we move through this next step to realizing a quality facility for the museum, we thank those who have been part of this journey so far.  Stay with us, there is more excitement to come!


Here are more details about Phase Two of the renovation of the building:

Read an over view of the museum’s proposal to improve the insulation in the storage area… 

Read the full project proposal…