Why has the building been closed for so long?

Thoughtful decisions take time. A combination of costs and timing prevented us from moving forward until recently. We are a nonprofit entity and exist on donations and memberships to fund our operations and programs. The full renovation may cost as much as a million dollars, and we want to raise both capital and operations funds for longevity.

Why are we renting the main floor to a bookstore?

As a nonprofit, this provides us with a consistent revenue stream. The History Center will provide them with gift shop products to sell on our behalf, and they will be open more hours than the museums. There is value in having people in the building regularly. We will be collaborating with them with authors and events. There is also space on the main floor for micro-exhibits.

Will there be a coffee shop?

We aren’t opposed to the idea. We’ll leave that decision up to our tenant, True Leaves.

Will parts of the museum be available for rental?

We haven’t formally made that decision, but it is up for discussion.

How did the building get damaged?

In 2014, several pipes burst on the top and lower levels. The damage was limited to the lower level and west wall of the stairwell. We are currently restoring operations through a cosmetic restoration to make the building usable and safe. This is not the major renovation that has been discussed in the past that the building needs to be 100% ready for the next 100 years.

What about access for those with disabilities?

We have begun seeking vendors who can give us proposals to make the main floor accessible until we are able to do the major renovation in the future. We hope to have that soon. Please keep in mind, it was this expensive accessibility issue that caused the library board to abandon this structure in 2007.

What are the plans for renovating the top floor and stairwell?

Our volunteers will begin drywalling the stairwell soon. We are looking for proposals to update and renovate the original top floor auditorium.

When was the building built?

Started in 1912; completed and opened April 1913.

Why the name Bureau County History Center?

The Bureau County History Center is a public charity. The Bureau County Historical Society is a private foundation. Donors benefit more when giving to a public charity versus a private foundation. The move was made in anticipation of raising a large sum of money to rehabilitate the SSM building and increase investment funds for long term operations—The Second Century.

How can I help?

We urge people to either become a donor or member. We operate solely on donations and memberships. We are not a part of the county or city governments;  27.4% of our annual operations is from memberships and donations. The balance of funding comes from grants and Historical Society support.

How do we give donations?

Donors can either give by send donations to the history center office or through our website. Any amount is appreciated.

Why renovate and maintain this building anyway?

This is part of our mission, the preservation of artifacts. This is a beloved landmark for Princeton and Bureau County. Many residents have fond memories dating back decades. Restoration of this building will bring this beloved building to the public.

The Bureau County History Center is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit public charity organization, as designated by the IRS and the State of Illinois. Your donation is tax deductible in accordance with IRS Guidelines.