David Davis Mansion gets creative to offset state cuts

By WEEK Producer

August 3, 2012 Updated Aug 3, 2012 at 9:03 PM CDT

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. -- A group touring the David Davis Mansion in Bloomington sees a piece of American history.

What they don't see is how increasingly difficult its becoming to operate this state historical site.

"We've had at least a 9 percent cut, and in some years as much as a 23 percent cut, over the preceding year's budget," said Marcia Young, site manager of the mansion. "We're operating on the leanest budget that I have ever seen."

That has forced the David Davis Mansion Foundation to get creative and find new ways to fund operations.

Special events like An Evening with the President and Mrs. Lincoln, the Garden Walk, and the annual Christmas at the Mansions Tour have helped offset some of the cuts. And on Saturday, the Mansion will be the site of the 16th annual McLean County Antique Auto Show.

It's one of three classic car exhibitions the Mansion has scheduled this year. As state funding continues to shrink, dependence on revenue from private sources keeps growing.

"All together, we probably get $40,000 from our fundraisers," Young said.

On Saturday, over 1,000 people will visit the grounds of the mansion to see about 75 classic cars, including a 1958 Chrysler 300 D.

Daryl Miller is the proud owner and a member of the McLean County Antique Auto Club.

"They made 600 of them," Miller said. "It was referred to as a Banker's Hot Rod because it was more expensive than an Imperial which was top of the line."

Miller says the idea to hold the car show at the Davis Mansion was driven by a pair of family members who had done volunteer work there.

Saturday's show gets underway at 10 a.m. and continues until 3 p.m. There will also be food and live entertainment.

And of course, you can take a tour.