After five months of construction, the David J. and Debra C. Rathje Allerton Mansion Grand Entrance Drive will be opened for public use on Monday, October 22 at 4:30pm. The public is invited to a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the addition and honor the Rathjes, held near the estate’s Gate House, 515 Old Timber Road, Monticello.
The new entrance was made possible thanks to a seven-figure gift from David and Debbie Rathje, of Decatur. The Drive creates a more prominent, accessible vehicular entry to Allerton’s Mansion, in addition to ADA accessible walkways and parking, and improved lighting.
“It’s been exciting to see everything come together,” said Allerton Park Director, Derek Peterson. “The new sidewalk that winds from the Main Parking Lot to the Mansion, in particular, is really a testament to the character of the Park: there’s this moment where the trees open up to a spectacular view of the Mansion entrance –– it’s a moment of unexpected beauty that visitors often encounter around unassuming corners at Allerton.”
The 22-foot wide concrete driveway runs along the current Gate House carriage lane where Robert Allerton’s guests would have historically approached the Mansion. In addition to encouraging visitors to stop in and find out what Allerton has to offer, the new entrance reinstates the “celebratory approach” that Robert’s guests would have experienced upon arrival.
“The Drive will completely transform the visitor journey, whether you’re dropping by for a daytime visit or staying overnight for an event,” explained Jordan Zech, Allerton’s Retreat Center Manger. “The ability to drive straight up to the Mansion gives our guests easier access for dropping off family members, unloading luggage, and delivering wedding décor.”
The David J. and Debra C. Rathje Allerton Mansion Grand Entrance Drive is the first of a series of improvements planned to help make the Mansion more accessible and welcoming to all who visit the Park or use the facility.
To learn more about specific projects, naming opportunities, and planned giving options, contact Allerton’s Associate Director of Advancement, Bridget Frerichs, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 217-333-3287.