LINCOLN -- A Lincoln landmark once listed on the state's 10 most endangered historical places list is getting closer to becoming a museum.
Geoff Ladd, executive director of the Abraham Lincoln Bureau of Logan County, said this week renovations to restrooms and adding a chair lift are required before seeking a museum designation for the restaurant and bar that once greeted travelers along Route 66.
In 2009, Landmarks Illinois, a statewide preservation advocacy group, named the site to the state's 10 Most Endangered Historical Places.
"When the economy tanked, donations started getting tougher to come by," Ladd said. "We still are optimistic we will get this accomplished."
The entire cost of the project is hard to estimate, Ladd said. Volunteer hours have included those from members of the Illinois Route 66 Association - a group with members from Chicago to St. Louis - traveled to Lincoln to volunteer.
"We are a group that likes to help communities who help themselves," said John Weiss, preservation chairman of the association. "A lot of progress has been made on the Mill. I've worked on it four or five times and I am really looking forward to seeing this get done because I think it will be something fantastic.
Without the volunteers, Ladd said, the project would probably have topped $250,000.
"We have probably raised about $45,000 and to complete the restrooms and chairlift, it would probably take another $25,000," he said.
The Mill opened in 1929 under the name of the Blue Mill. Proprietor Paul Coddington would serve grilled sandwiches any hour of the day or night. The Dutch-themed building with blue trim featured a revolving windmill and waitresses dressed in blue with white aprons. Over the years, the restaurant became famous for its schnitzel, originally made of veal, and later of pork.
"Our group's motto when we volunteer is that we will work for food," Weiss said. "When we volunteer at the Mill, our motto is that we will work for schnitzels."
This year, schnitzels were made by Brian Huffman, the son of Albert and Blossom Huffman, who bought the Mill in 1945. Huffman now owns Hallie's Restaurant, Lincoln.
"This project will get done," Weiss said. "When it does, the city is going to have something very nice to be proud of."