Forreston Library celebrates 20 years since expansion


FORRESTON – Forreston Public Library opened its doors on May 6, 1938 in a back room of the post office as a WPA project (Works Progress Administration).

It moved numerous times before the Village of Forreston purchased the former Duitsman Hardware building in 1974 and it became the library's permanent home.

The 2021 Forreston Public Library Board consisting of Sue Milnes, President and Trustees Wilma Akins, Jan Cotter, Judy Greenfield, Teresa Meyer, Kathy Pasch and Matt Snider along with Library Director Julie Voss invites you to an Open House to celebrate the 20-year anniversary of the library’s renovation. It will be held on Saturday, Oct. 23 from 2-4 p.m. Come see the recent improvements to the library, sign up for door prizes, enjoy some refreshments, and discover all the library has to offer.

By 1998, the Library Board found that it had outgrown the location. A library referendum was added to the Nov. 1998 election asking voters to expand the boundaries of the library district to include all of the Forrestville Valley School District except Leaf River, which had its own library. Board members worked diligently to promote their cause but without success. Voters rejected the expansion.

In 1998, Forreston Public Library was bursting at the seams. Story hours was so well attended kids barely had room to squirm. A book had to be removed for every new one that came in. The Library Board decided it was time for action. After working with a lawyer, a library referendum was added to the Nov. 1998 election asking voters to expand the boundaries of the library district to include all of the Forrestville Valley School District except Leaf River, which had its own library. Board members worked diligently to promote their cause but without success. Voters rejected the expansion.

The board next started looking at other properties. The former Smitty's Pantry convenience store/gas station at 301 N. Walnut was pursued however the possibility of underground gas tanks eliminated that prospect.

In April of 1999, Village President Robert Dillavou was contacted by a former Forreston resident about a potential donation. The meeting Dillavou, Library Board President Anne Herkert and Librarian Sandy Stukenberg had with the donor would change the future for the library. Darrell Windle made an offer of $50,000 to bring the library into the 21st century and if the citizens would match it, he would donate an additional $50,000. Windle, living in Chicago, graduated from Forreston High School and his parents were lifelong residents who often utilized the library.

A Fund-Raising Steering Committee was formed consisting of Nola DeVries, Robert Dillavou, Ann Elder, Doug Elder, Bev Groenewold, and Noreen Sweetwood. The organizations and citizens of Forreston held fundraisers, and goals were met in no time. With the start that Windle gave, the library was able to apply for and receive a number of grants including the Live and Learn Grant for $192,231 along with Illinois First program for $50,000 with an additional $25,000. The total cost of the renovation was estimated at $586,000. Larson and Darby of Rockford was hired as Building Architect and Harn Construction of Freeport was hired as Building Contractor. The Village of Forreston sold the library the vacant lot directly north for $1 to allow for the addition.

Books were moved to Forreston Grade School by an Anderson Transportation semi where the football team formed a human chain to the third floor where the books would be stored. A small temporary library was located at 214 First Ave., a former beauty salon/apartment.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held July 30, 2000 consisting of Library Board members Anne Herkert, Bette Romanowski, Virginia Gapinski, Cindy Zumdahl, Dennis Osterloo, Carol Anderson and Mary Engebretson along with Darrell Windle and his mother Florence.

Construction progressed and by March 4, 2001 an open house was held for the public to view the new facility. The books were moved back in and on April 16 the library was open to the public. On June 3, 2001 a dedication ceremony was held.

The library we have today is a result of the spark that Darrell Windle's donation gave to the project. His generous gift was inspired by his mother whose birthday sentiment was "Make my gift - a gift to the library." Her birthday would have been Oct. 20.

 

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