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September 1, 1999

Ryan Praises State-Funded Restoration Project On One Of State's Oldest Buildings

PRAIRIE DU ROCHER -- Governor George H. Ryan today praised the impending state-funded restoration project on one of the state's oldest buildings, the Powder Magazine at Fort de Chartres State Historic Site, calling it a major step in preserving Illinois' rich French heritage.

"This complex is one of the last direct links we have with the first European explorers and settlers on this side of the Mississippi River." Ryan said. "It's very important to preserve our heritage so we can pass it on to our children and our children's children."

The $305,000 included in the state's current fiscal year budget, combined with $100,000 from the previous year, will completely restore the Powder Magazine, which was built in the 1750's and is one of the oldest buildings in Illinois. The architectural firm of R.A. Nack and Associates was hired to perform tests, conduct a structural evaluation, and design the Powder Magazine restoration. Bids on the project, which is being overseen by the Illinois Capital Development Board, should be let in the Spring of 2000 with the completion by early 2001.

The Powder Magazine was built in the early 1750's with the last of three 18th century French forts along the Mississippi River known as Fort de Chartres. This final fort served as the center of French control of the Illinois Country from about 1752 to 1763, when it was surrendered to the British in the treaty that ended the French and Indian War. The British abandoned the fort in 1771, and during the early 1800s local residents dismantled the fort and used the stones for other building projects. The Powder Magazine and the fort's wall foundations were all that remained by 1900. The State of Illinois purchased the property in 1913, and has since reconstructed the north wall and several buildings.

Fort de Chartres State Historic Site is administered by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. It is located four miles west of Prairie du Rocher on State Route 155, and is open daily for free public tours.


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