You might say the Gustave Koerner House is finally showing its age of 158 by turning gray, but it turns out the house was that color when it was young, back in the 1870s.
Workers cleaned off old white paint and applied a primer coat of paint to the historic house this past week. The gray color, Sag Harbor gray, is what a color consultant determined the house would have been painted when newer, Jack LeChien said.
"It's pretty much from the period of 1872 to the 1890s when Koerner died," LeChien said. "That is the time when Koerner was at home in Belleville as an attorney but still had a lot of influence in state and national politics."
Koerner built the Greek Revival style house in 1849 and then rebuilt it in 1854 after a fire.
The new paint at the house at 200 Abend Street is a dramatic change. For many years, the house was divided into apartments and painted white.
It's change in a project that people might think is taking forever. It has been more than 10 years since fundraising began to restore the house to reflect what it was in Koerner's time.
Organizers of the Koerner House Restoration Committee hope to keep going and to wrap the home in the history of the period when Koerner was an adviser to Abraham Lincoln and a power in national politics.
LeChien, president of the committee, said the top coat will be similar to the primer. But first, some tuckpointing will need to be performed. So it could be a couple of weeks, depending on the weather, before the outside is finished.
On the exterior, besides the gray, the gables will be brown, the shutters dark green and the window casings will remain yellow, LeChien said.
LeChien said they have found that raising money goes better when the campaigns are targeted toward a specific repair, such as windows.
So, for the exterior, they have put together a campaign for tax-deductible donations, which includes:
* The $1,000 Cornice Club.
* The $500 Bracket Backer.
* The $250 Chimney Builder.
* The $100 Five-Gallon Pail Partner.
Various gift incentives are available in each giving category.
People can send donations to Koerner House Restoration, P.O. Box 8072, Belleville, IL 62222.
The committee plans to begin working on a building across the street at 127 Mascoutah Ave. as a visitors center where groups can hear presentations about why Koerner mattered, while work on the interior of the house begins.
LeChien published a 16-page booklet with the writings of Koerner in respect to his meetings with Lincoln called "Koerner & Lincoln Meet at the Crossroads of History."
Koerner told people during an 1858 meeting to discuss candidates for the Illinois U.S. Senate seat, "We must make them understand Lincoln is our man."
In two years he would maneuver to help convince the Republican National Convention in Chicago to select the dark-horse candidate Lincoln.
During early 1860, Koerner spent much time in conversation with President-elect Lincoln in Springfield, talking about the presidential term to come.
For more information you can visit the house's website at www.gustavekoerner.org.
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