The Chester Woman’s Club will be making a $5,000 donation towards rebuilding the shelter house at Fort Kaskaskia later this week. While the donation alone is significant, so is the history that the Chester Woman’s Club has with the shelter.
Julie Gangloff, who is a board member of the Randolph Society and the Randolph County Historical Society, has been researching the shelter house and how it came to be, and shared this information with the North County News.
Built in 1942, many people believe that the shelter house was created through a joint effort with the state and federal Works Progress Administration. But Gangloff has discovered that it wasn’t the federal government, but rather local organizations that made the shelter house possible.
In 1938, the Illinois Federation of Women’s Clubs held a meeting at the library in Chester. The Chester group needed to come up with a project to give back to the community. Librarian Minnie Adams suggested a shelter house for Kaskaskia State Park. And this is where the idea was born.
The women then started working on the project and secured cooperation of other local civic organizations. They also secured an appropriation from the Illinois legislation and a contract was let, but then the contractor failed to qualify and the appropriation lapsed.
So after three years of work on the project, it had hit a wall. But the determined women didn’t give up.
For more on the Women’s Club and the Fort Kaskaskia shelter, please see this week’s print edition.