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Three Camp Algonquin buildings could be saved

Published: Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013 10:59 p.m. CST • Updated: Friday, Sept. 20, 2013 12:06 a.m. CST

WOODSTOCK – Three additional buildings at the former Camp Algonquin site may be saved.

The proposed master plan for the 279-acre Fox Bluff Conservation Area, which includes the century-old campsite, recommends demolishing all the 40-some buildings except the recreation hall, which would be reworked into a rental hall for weddings and meetings.

But in a reversal, a majority of the trustees proposed taking a second look at three other buildings: a century-old dairy barn, a small counselors cabin built in the 1950s and one of three dormitories built by the Tribune Company, one of the camp’s main benefactors.

Conservation district staff will evaluate how the structures could be used and incorporated into the site as a whole.

“I think we really need to consider that we’ve got to find a use for them,” Board Treasurer Kent Krautstrunk said. “They have to be useful. There’s no reason to preserve them just to appreciate them from the outside or to walk through them.”

Trustee Bonnie Leahy suggested keeping the barn primarily for storage and, as was suggested in one of the preliminary plans proposed by staff, as a reminder of the area’s agricultural past.

The McHenry County Historical Society had originally proposed moving the counselors cabin to its site in Union, but underground septic tanks and the cost to move it have made that prohibitive, said Kurt Begalka, the society’s administrator.

Instead, the society is proposing keeping it at the Fox Bluff site, either at its current location or relocating it on the property, and using it as a interpretative site, he said.

“I like the idea of using it as a historical program,” Board Secretary Bona Heinsohn said. “I think it adds a great deal to the site to make that connection, and I think that partnering with the historical society is a logical extension.”

Heinsohn added that the historical society’s museum is in Union on the other end of the county from the Fox Bluff site, which is located along the Fox River between Algonquin and Cary.

The dormitories are among the earliest buildings at the Camp Algonquin site and are on a map designed by well-regarded landscape architect Jens Jenson from the early 1900s, Begalka said.

An architecture firm hired by the conservation district had put together a plan for one of the dormitories that would transform it into a meeting space.

The board also gave staff the go-ahead to stop maintaining the rest of the buildings at the site and to auction off surplus property.

The district has a standing contract with an auction firm, and will pay it $15,160, plus 6 percent of the gross proceeds, to create an inventory, set up an online auction and facilitate the transfer of the property.

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