Dave and Debra Rathje of Decatur have made a one million dollar gift to continue improvements to Allerton. The Rathje’s donation will be directed to the Fu Dog Garden and the Solarium, the window-lined ‘back porch’ of the Mansion. A portion of their investment will be used to make immediate updates to each area, including restoration work to the House of the Golden Buddhas, the prominent gazebo in the Fu Dog Garden, as well as the statues it contains. In addition, endowment funds have been created which will provide yearly funding for long-term maintenance and staffing needs.
Growing up in the small community of Sangamon, five miles east of Decatur, Dave first visited Allerton with his father in 1949, just three years after it opened to the public. He remembers his dad sharing the unique history of Robert Allerton and his father, Samuel.
“My father told me the old story of Bob Allerton; a remarkable history,” Dave recalled. “Bob was the son of Sam Allerton, who started the Chicago Stockyards. That perked my interest.”
Dave continued to visit Allerton as an electrical engineering student at the University of Illinois. He didn’t set foot inside the Mansion, however, until 2014 when he and Debra joined Allerton staff for a tour. That visit, in-part, inspired the couple to make their first million dollar gift a few years later, which funded a new Mansion entrance drive, creating a more welcoming and accessible vehicular entry to the Mansion, accessible walkways, and improved lighting. Additional gifts from the Rathjes have funded updates to Robert Allerton’s bedroom and a significant portion of the staff “Wish List”.
“Dave and Debra’s support and faith in us have been nothing short of incredible,” said Allerton Director Derek Peterson. “Their investment has and will continue to allow us to offer more consistent and comfortable amenities, increased accessibility, and endowments for long-term care that will help set a new standard. We are committed to moving forward as a facility and program. The Rathjes understand this and continue to show an inspiring commitment to seeing it through.”
Peterson noted that the Rathjes have contributed the highest total dollar amount to Allerton, behind only Robert and John Gregg Allerton. Dave and Debra explained that it’s an easy place to invest in, pointing to the staff’s commitment and recent improvements.
“It’s been very enjoyable for me, to be honest,” Dave said. “You guys are making it happen; anything we can do, we are glad to help out. I hope this encourages more donations from others. I love the place, and I want it to last for future generations.”
For more information on supporting Allerton visit our donation page or call 217-333-3287.