Excerpts from theChicagoTribune.com:

As the walls and ceilings are torn away from the former Cicero Fire House No. 2 building on Lake Street, history is coming alive for Frank Lipo. After serving the community for more than a century in many different capacities, the old firehouse, built in 1898 at 129 Lake St., is the oldest public building in Oak Park, [and] it will serve as the new home of the historical society once the renovation is complete.

Frank Lipo, the executive director of the historical society, said the $600,000 project will restore the building to its original grandeur, while installing a few modern amenities as well.

“Our goal is to get replica doors so they look like the historical photographs,” Lipo said of the former barn-style front door entrances, which are now covered by cinder blocks and windows. “The goal is to put a brick plaza out front, to mimic where the fire engines left the building.”

In June, Lipo says three 500-foot deep wells will be dug adjacent to the building, and a geothermal HVAC system will be installed, which he hopes will better preserve historical artifacts.

When the old ceilings were removed, they provided an interesting glimpse into the past. The underside of the second floor revealed two large holes where firefighters would slide down poles from the upper floor to the fire engines below. Crews also discovered horse feed preserved beneath the second floor in the rear of the building. Horses were kept on the first floor in the rear of the building, and brought up front to pull early fire wagons.

While it plans to celebrate the past, today the historical society is reaching out to the community for help in finishing its project.

Lipo said two Illinois Department of Natural Resources grants, totaling almost $200,000 were “suspended, but not canceled” by the state. While hopeful the money will be released, the historical society has launched an Indiegogo crowdsource campaign, which seeks cash donations online to ensure all the work will be completed.

Those interested in donating can visit http://www.indiegogo.com and search for “The Historical Society of Oak Park and River Forest.” More information is also available at http://www.oprfhistory.org.

thanks Dan