Willard group takes new name, broadens focus

The Frances Willard house on Chicago Avenue.

Members of the Frances Willard Historical Association voted Sunday to re-incorporate as a new non-profit organization, The Center for Women’s History and Leadership.

Accompanying this name change, later this fall the new center will also become the owner of the property and historic buildings in the current Woman’s Christian Temperance Union Evanston Local Historic District.

The group's executive director, Glen Madeja, says its mission will be to honor the leadership of women of the past to inform the present and inspire leaders of the future.

The Frances Willard House Museum and Willard Memorial Library and WCTU Archives will continue as the focal points at the site, with tours, programs and research services expanding. But this change will allow for greater stewardship, increased capacity, and expanded programming for the entire property.

The new nonprofit will receive ownership of the Willard House, the WCTU Administration Building, and the two flanking Victorian residences (located at 1724-1732 Chicago Avenue in Evanston) on Nov. 1.

Madeja says it's an opportunity for redefinition of the FWHA into an expanded organization.

"We are very honored that the WCTU, as it approaches it’s 150th anniversary, has entrusted us with ensuring the future of its legacy. Members and leaders of both organizations have been working on this project for over two years," Madeja says.

"Their goals have been to safeguard the future of the property, ensure the legacy of the WCTU, and provide for proper stewardship of the Willard House Museum and the WCTU Archives so that they remain open to the public and available to researchers long into the future.”

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