Written by on June 18, 2020

Keokuk, Iowa, June 17, 2020–The Jeffris Family Foundation has awarded a challenge grant of $275,000 to the Keokuk Union Depot Foundation.  The Jeffris Family Foundation, based in Janesville, Wisconsin, focuses on the preservation and restoration of structures of significant historic and architectural value in small towns in the Midwest.

The challenge grant is designed to stimulate local contributions to continue the historic preservation project that began with restoration of the tile roof and central tower.  To earn the Jeffris grant the Keokuk Union Depot Foundation (“KUDF”) will first have to raise a 2-for-1 match of $550,000 by June 30, 2023.  Jeffris granted $333,000 for the earlier roof project, which led to over 400 contributors giving an additional $942,769.

The Jeffris grant will enable improvements to the interior and exterior of the waiting room area, including 1) reproducing the original marble and tile waiting room floor now covered up by terrazzo, 2) repointing and cleaning the brick walls to restore the original color that is dramatically brighter than today, 3)  improving the restroom facilities to better accommodate guests and provide wheelchair access, 4) shoring up the building’s foundation to prevent deterioration of the structure, 5) installing period chandeliers to enhance the lighting and highlight the cathedral ceiling, and 6) restoring the once-beautiful trackside train canopy to its original color and period lighting. It is remarkable that the canopy’s corrugated iron roof and wrought-iron trusses and framing have survived well for more than 125 years despite decades of deferred maintenance and neglect.

As the community works toward a new normal after the Covid-19 pandemic, the Keokuk Union Depot Commission and Keokuk Union Depot Foundation look forward to enjoying once again celebrations of weddings, graduations, reunions, parties, and concerts at the Depot.  All donations to the Keokuk Union Depot Foundation, P.O. Box 463, Keokuk, IA 52632, from June 17, 2020 through June 30, 2023 will count toward the Jeffris challenge grant. 

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