Allerton Park & Retreat Center – With Illinois: The Campaign for Illinois
The Sun Singer Statue

With Illinois Campaign

Allerton Park & Retreat Center

Celebrating the impact of your generosity

Allerton has experienced overwhelming support over the past eight years. To the thousands of community members who have gone “ALL IN for Allerton”—thank you. Your support and encouragement has ensured Allerton is, and will continue to be, a place for healing, education, and inspiration.

The commitment you’ve made to Allerton will be felt for generations to come. Your donations have impacted not only the estate itself, but all who visit. Volunteers, staff, and fellow community members are energized and inspired by your support, which has helped build a connection and appreciation for this place we all love.

It is vital that we continue to strive to provide a sense of place for residents of East Central Illinois. Continuing traditions while expanding access and building public programs will nurture our organization and increase opportunities for the public to experience nature, culture, and community.

Derek Peterson
SignatureDerek Peterson
Executive Director

With Illinois Impact

As we mark the end of the With Illinois Campaign, Allerton Park & Retreat Center has been transformed by donor support.

Alma8948151 Dollars Raised

Gifts6371 Campaign Gifts

Puzzle Piece4600 Gifts of $100 and Under

Party894 First-Time Donors

With Illinois Logo$4,862,671 Current Use Dollars Raised

EarthDonors from 40 States and 5 Countries

With Illinois Highlights

Your support has helped us continue to elevate the values that make Illinois distinctive: a sense of boundless aspiration, collaboration, and a global perspective.


Public Programs & Events

The growth of public outreach at Allerton has been exponential over the last 10 years. From our Concert Series and youth day camps, Plant Sale and public hikes, to Holiday Showcase and GLOW, we’ve continued to fill our calendar, and yours, with more reasons to visit Allerton. Providing recreational and educational programs that celebrate art, nature, and history has become a cornerstone for what Allerton is and who we are. The combination of event sponsors, public attendance, and a dedicated staff has proven to be a formula for success. In addition, partnerships with the University of Illinois School of Music and Lyric Theatre, Don Moyer Boys and Girls Club, local chefs, Monticello Area Arts Council, and many area instructors and experts have expanded our reach and offerings.


Mansion Updates

As we opened up the Mansion doors to the public over the last several years, our staff knew it was time the décor and furnishings matched the grandeur of Robert Allerton’s original home. Local interior designer and Allerton Committee member Anne Carlson utilized historic photos, information about Robert’s travels abroad, and a few remaining original pieces to inspire a plan for each space. With the vision in place, investments from donors made significant improvements possible: Deborah and Michael Westjohn (Butternut Room), Debra and David Rathje (Robert Allerton’s Room & Solarium), Susan and Steven Zumdahl (Library), The Schowalter Family (John Gregg’s Room), and the Friends of Allerton (third floor guest rooms & Marble Hallway). These generous individuals have helped create historically inspired spaces, along with more comfortable and consistent amenities. We hope that these updates, along with future investments, will encourage guests to return again and again, creating much-needed revenue to maintain our 120-year-old property.

Garden with ceremony

Garden Renovations & Endowments

Robert Allerton and John Gregg created 14 formal gardens on their estate between 1902 and 1946. Now nearing 100 years since installation, many are in need of significant updates or complete renovations. Thankfully, visitors and supporters of Allerton see the long-term benefit of restoring these spaces so that future generations can experience Allerton as we have. Christie Roszkowski (Bulb Garden), Dana Brehm and Larry Baumann (Triangle Parterre Garden), Deborah and Michael Westjohn (Brick Wall Garden & Peony Garden), and David and Debra Rathje (Fu Dog Garden) have supported not only new plantings, plant materials, and accessible sidewalks, but have funded endowments to ensure the gardens are well-cared for in perpetuity. Yearly income will be used for seasonal help, replacement plants, and supplies to maintain these historic and beautiful spaces.


Artist In-Residence Program

One of the most intriguing ideas in the 2015 Master Plan was converting Robert Allerton’s former ice house to serve as lodging for a resident to live and create while living at Allerton. Thanks to the support of two couples, five years later our In-Residence Program became a reality! Long time visitors Joan and Peter Hood donated an endowment which provides yearly funds for a resident stipend and public outreach, while Central Illinois natives and Allerton enthusiasts Dana Brehm and Larry Baumann supported the ice house renovation and endowment.

In addition to highlighting the meaningful work of creators and researchers and making their professions more accessible to the public, the program re-creates the intimate experience Robert Allerton provided his guests, great thinkers and makers, who found inspiration while visiting the estate. Since December 2020 we have welcomed John Bannon (multimedia artist & educator), Aumaine Rose Smith (poet), Simiya Sudduth (multidisciplinary artist & art educator), Jose Gobbo (jazz guitarist), Barber (painter), Latrelle Bright (theatre maker & professor), and Nicole Anderson Cobb (creative writer & researcher).

Walking path in woods

Natural Areas Restoration

Our 1,500 acres of woodlands have been called the “soul” of Allerton. It seems this has never been more true than now. The natural areas at the park are literally working to heal people. Not only mentally, but by being a carbon reduction area. With the Sangamon River, floodplains, lowland and upland forests, a meadow, 50 acres of prairie, and over 14 miles of hiking trails, our forest is one of the most valuable in Illinois.

Allerton’s healing properties will continue as our community continues to appreciate and invest in our natural areas. Gifts from Diana and Ward McDonald, Chris and Mark Golden, David Taylor, Jan and Ted Gill, and Dennis Killian will ensure that Allerton’s natural areas are not only preserved, but celebrated. Their support allows our Natural Areas Managers to focus on invasive species control, prescribed fire, and wildlife management, as well as collaborating with researchers and providing environmental education programs to the public.

With Illinois Moments

Take a look at a few of the moments that have shaped the culture and character of Allerton Park & Retreat Center during the With Illinois Campaign.

Artist rendering of master plan.

In January 2015, the University of Illinois Board of Trustees approved the Allerton Park Master Plan, which inspires a vision for conservation, appreciation, engagement, and development of Allerton’s physical property over the next 20-30 years. Read more.

Groundbreaking ceremony

In September 2017 we broke ground on the Dave and Debra Rathje Drive, creating a more prominent, accessible entry to the Mansion. Accessibility efforts continue throughout the Mansion and grounds. Read more.

Greenhouse Café

With funding from the George M. Unger estate, we opened the Greenhouse Café in April 2018, allowing visitors to expand and enhance their Allerton experience. Read more.

Allerton GLOW event

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Allerton staff increased online programming and expanded outdoor events. A record number of sponsors and visitors showed up to attend and support GLOW in December 2020. Read more.

The McCraw Family Visitor Center

The McCraw Family Visitor Center, opening in early 2023, will be dedicated to informative and interactive elements to enhance visitors’ discovery of all things Allerton. Read more.

Continue Your Support

Your continued support ensures Allerton Park & Retreat Center remains a place where progress and innovation can flourish. Find your passion and help us dream even bigger!

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Philanthropy has benefited students, faculty, and staff in many ways. Browse the list below to learn more about how the With Illinois Campaign’s impact can be felt across campus.