A New Appreciation

Like many current and former Monticello residents, I hold a special place in my heart for Allerton Park. Many of you can likely recall family picnics and hikes as a child, lazy summer days lounging around the Sun Singer, or maybe the joy of bringing your children out to Allerton for the first time. The Park was a playground, the mansion a mystery.

I’m ashamed to say that growing up I didn’t realize just how lucky I was to have this place in my backyard. I knew Allerton was unique, but just how unique—and how valuable—I didn’t realize until later. Fourteen miles of trails through the forest made great scenery for cross-country practice, but the true importance of these areas was lost on me. The beauty of the formal gardens and statuary was obvious, but I put little thought into why Robert Allerton designed his gardens this way or how he chose unique statues from around the world. Allerton also happened to be the name of the local library, but the history of the Allerton family and how Robert came to build his estate at “the Farms” in central Illinois never crossed my mind.

Although I’ve certainly come a long way since that time, to this day I’m still learning about the many aspects of the Park. Learning not only what is, but what can be. I see Allerton in a new way. I see the restored prairie that provides habitat for state endangered and threatened species, and the need for continuous invasive species control to maintain the high quality forest that is one of the most valuable in Illinois. I see the need to preserve one-of-a-kind statues, and gardens that require not only constant maintenance, but significant reinvestment to really thrive. I see a century-old mansion in need of restoration to maintain its functionality as well as its historical and architectural significance. I see the opportunity for engagement to share Allerton with others and educational programs to teach the public, and in-particular, children, about the importance of this truly unique place.

I look forward to the day when I bring my own children here to share my memories as we make more of our own. I hope I can instill in them the same appreciation that I now have. It is only with this shared understanding and long-term investment that we can ensure the continued preservation of this place that we all know and love.

For more information on how you can help or get involved at Allerton, contact Bridget Frerichs at 217-300-3500.

May 21st, 2013 by Allerton | Posted in Rediscover Allerton