MATTOON -- Two Mattoon residents are assisting the Landmarks Illinois nonprofit organization with recording the location and condition of outdoor World War I memorials and monuments statewide.
The two residents, Steve Thompson and Carolyn Cloyd, are also helping spread the word about a new matching grant program that Landmarks Illinois is offering to provide monetary assistance to preserve these World War I monuments. Thompson and Cloyd are both members of the Coles County Historic Preservation Advisory Council.
Since Thompson started working on Landmarks Illinois' survey about 10 months ago, the historic preservation consultant said he has seen the list grow to include 225 monuments in 113 communities statewide so far. He said the majority of these monuments were put in place in the 1920s and 1930s, so many of them are showing a lot of wear and tear.
Thompson, who is an Army veteran, said he hopes that the Landmarks Illinois World War I Monument Preservation Grant Program matching grant program will provide an emphasis for the organizations that own these World War I monuments to take action on cleaning and restoring them.
"It all comes back to the veterans. I am in it because I want the veterans to be recognized and the monuments to veterans to be in the best shape possible for future generations to reflect on," Thompson said of the survey and grant program.
Landmarks Illinois, which advocates for the protection of historic and architecturally significant properties, launched the grant program on April 6 in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the U.S. entry into World War I.
“(The grant) program provides critical funding for aging historical markers that pay homage to local heroes who served in the Great War,” Landmarks Illinois President and CEO Bonnie McDonald said in a press release at the time of the launch. “Often called ‘The Forgotten War,’ we cannot stand by and let these landmarks to our veterans go unnoticed."
Nonprofits and government agencies are encouraged to apply to the grant program to help fund their WWI monument restoration projects. Eligible scopes of work include monument/memorial cleaning, repointing and stabilization, replacement of missing elements, monument/memorial relocation or general repair work. The grant program is made possible with support from the Pritzker Military Foundation.
The grant program will consist of four rounds of grant funding through 2017 and 2018. Grant applications for the first round of funding were due May 15. McDonald said during a recent interview that grant applications for the current round will be due on Wednesday. She said the deadlines for the final two rounds will be May 15 and Aug. 15 in 2018.
Applications will be evaluated by Landmarks Illinois on the condition of the subject resource, the submitted scope of work and the ability of the applicant to execute the proposed project. Grants range from $500-$5,000. The grant size will be determined by the need of eligible application and will be awarded on a matching basis. A match may be a direct dollar amount or, using volunteer labor or services, equal the value of the grant.
WWI monuments included in the grant applications will be added to Landmarks Illinois’ ongoing survey of outdoor World War I monuments. Landmarks Illinois has been conducting the survey to better understand the volume of monuments and condition.
McDonald said the survey has shown that World War I monuments were put in place throughout Illinois, which demonstrates the high degree of respect that communities gave to the service of their local veterans. She said the monuments range in size from plaques and sculptures to large structures, including memorial bridges. She noted that Neoga's memorial is unique in that it involves trees planted alongside a park.
Additional information about the monument survey is available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or visiting www.Landmarks.org/ww1-monument-survey. More information about the grant program is available at http://www.landmarks.org/resources/financial-resources/landmarks-illinois-grants-landmarks-illinois/.