Preservationists fired up with fundraisers to save old Kendall jail

By Erika Wurst for Chronicle Media

The Yorkville City Council in July gave preservationists three months to development a proposal for why the city should save the old Kendall County jail building

It’s all hands on deck in an effort to save the old Kendall County jail as residents band together to raise money and prove to the Yorkville City Council that the building is worthy of restoration.

Concerned residents, including Thomas Milschewski, have been pleading with city council members for months as they continued discussions to determine the fate of the 125-year-old building.

The initial plan was demolition, but Milschewski, the moderator of the popular Yorkville Then and Now local history Facebook Page, and others stepped up to the plate with a campaign which would offer alternatives.

The council listened to resident cries and gave the group until October to formulate a proposal for the deteriorating building and promote their fundraising efforts. A fire was officially lit under anyone whose goal it was to save the jail.

“I believe this is a good amount of time for us to get a head start and get a good foundation to show the city we can really do this,” Milschewski said.

They quickly formed a nonprofit, The Yorkville Historical Preservation Society, and pounded the pavement asking local businesses for their fundraising support. Former Yorkville Alderman and owner of Foxy’s Ice Cream Robyn Sutcliff was the first to jump on board.

The nonprofit raised more than $300 during a two-hour fundraiser held earlier this month at Foxy’s. They also teamed-up with Capitano Deli & Sweets and Casa Santiago to bring in some most-needed funds.

“We are hoping to have enough funds raised so we can show the board we have great community support,” Milschewski said. Fundraisers are planned for nearly every weekend until October.

Sandra Hurtado, owner of Harmony Aesthetics in downtown Yorkville, enjoying a sweet treat with her children at Foxy’s Ice Cream during a fundraiser to help save the old Kendall County Jail building. (Photo by Erika Wurst / for Chronicle Media)

On Aug. 21, the group is encouraging residents to head to Smokey’s BBQ in Yorkville. Show the flyer found on the “Go Directly To Jail” Facebook page and a portion of your meal’s cost will go to saving the old jail. On Sept. 6, the same thing happens at Wings Etc.

On the Then and Now Facebook page, there was an update on special offers for a raffle for Hometown Days festival during Sept. 1-2. Any donations are still being sought.

Yorkville Historic Preservation Society Board member Lisa Wolancevich said every penny donated will go to ensure the building is saved.

The group’s first priority is to obtain enough funds to save the exterior of the building in order to prevent further damage — think replacing broken windows, conducting roof repairs and doing mold abatement.

“On October 9 we want to show the City Council that, hey, we have people behind us and we are serious,” she said. “If we can show the city that we can secure the exterior of the building, hopefully they will work with us and allow us to restore the entire building.”

For more information on the fundraisers and the newly formed non-profit visit:






— Preservationists fired up with fundraisers to save old Kendall jail—