Allerton Park and Retreat Center has announced it is refocusing sales efforts, prioritizing more public offerings instead of private event bookings. The Mansion, located at 515 Old Timber Road in Monticello, has historically been used for a variety of purposes, but Park staff says it will now have a greater emphasis on public accessibility through lodging and events.
Park officials note that while the Mansion will still be available for weddings, conferences, and other private events, the availability will be more limited than in the past. Wedding receptions will see the biggest change, with Mansion receptions available primarily November through April, and at a reduced capacity of 80 people. Availability for Garden wedding ceremonies will not change, with availability year-round. Ceremonies can also be hosted in The Music Barn April through October.
“For years, weddings have taken over our calendar, and we are grateful to all the couples who were able to celebrate their love at Allerton,” explained Retreat Center Manager Jordan Zech. “Now, by reserving many of the ‘prime’ weekends for our own activities, we can ensure the typical Park visitor no longer has to peer through the windows during those perfect summer and fall days. Instead, perhaps they can stay overnight, enjoy a themed dinner, or listen to live music on the patio. These are all events we’ve been hosting the past few years, but now we can expand our offerings and availability.”
Zech noted that Allerton will honor all private contracts currently in place, but that staff has already implemented the changes internally and planning is underway for 2023 Allerton-hosted events.
Allerton Executive Director Derek Peterson elaborated that the push to make the Mansion more public has been ongoing for the past several years, and is part of the overall plan to make the entire estate more welcoming in an effort to fulfill Allerton’s vision: “To inspire the community to utilize and value nature, history, and the arts through accessible and sustainable programming, research, and facilities.”
“After our 2015 Master Plan, we started strategizing and planning for the changes that would need to occur to diversify our revenue,” Peterson explained. “As we have begun restoring the Park and its facilities, we have seen an increase in donations of all sizes from people who want to help improve Allerton. As we have offered more public events, we have seen the community consistently come out to attend and support those events.”
Peterson added that the wear and tear of weddings was another deciding factor, but reiterated that the 120 year old house is still available year-round for meetings and retreats. Current bookings range from University departments, businesses, clubs, and organizations, to a yoga retreat and intimate dinner parties.
“We are thankful to the businesses and individuals who invest in Allerton,” Peterson said. “We can’t wait to continue to expand our offerings in the Mansion for the entire community.”
For more information visit Allerton.illinois.edu or call 217-333-3287.
Photo: Salt Prairie Photography