Stickney House Foundation holds Renaissance fair to fund renovations

BULL VALLEY – Community volunteers are doing everything they can – “in rain or shine” – to restore the Stickney House to its original state.

The Stickney House Foundation will host its Renaissance Fair at 11 a.m. Saturday at Still Farm, 11114 Country Club Road. The event will have food vendors, a bouncy house, face painters, musicians, magicians, a belly dancer, artisans and a troubadour.

Nicole Horn, president of the Stickney House Foundation, said renaissance fairs haven’t been done a lot in McHenry County, and the organization thought it would try it out. While attendees don’t have to dress up for the fair, Horn said, costumes are welcome.

“This event is for the community [to come] together to help fund the McHenry County historical building,” Horn said.

After replacing the roof, fixing the framework of the building, making the dirt basement concrete and improving the plumbing and electrical wiring, the foundation is trying to raise $200,000 to renovate the second-floor ballroom.

The fair also will benefit the remaining restoration of the Stickney House, which includes the second-floor balcony, landscaping and general maintenance. The next structural project will be renovating the 3-acre farm on the Still Farm estate.

The house’s claim to fame is its design – every corner is rounded because, after several of their children died at young ages, the Stickney family believed the children’s spirits would be stuck in 90-degree corners. The family would hold seances on the second floor to communicate with the spirits of their children.

As a result, some village employees, like village administrator Rich Vance, have experienced supernatural happenings in the house. When Vance was a patrol officer and working on a report at 12:30 a.m. one night, he heard a man’s scream and nobody was there.

“I’m a combat Marine, I was an officer and I never froze,” Vance said. “That was the first time I ever froze.”

Vance never let it get to him, though; instead, he wants to see the house look the way it did when the Stickneys first moved in.

“This is a historic house, and I want it completed,” Vance said. “I want people to come here and walk through this house and have it be on display. There’s a lot of history in this house, and even though people walk through it now, it would be nice to have it finished.”

It’s still unknown when renovations will be complete. Vance says it’s a matter of donations. The village plans to eventually make the farm a community center.

“We want to bring history to the public,” Horn said.

Vance agrees.

“Our goal is to restore it the way it is,” Vance said. “We want to have it here for the community.”

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