DIXON – Repairs to the Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home and visitor center during the past 2 years span nearly 100 completed projects, and the hope is to finish work by the end of the year.
Repairs and renovations range from smaller tasks such as cleaning and restocking the visitors center gift shop to more complex work such as fixing and replacing rotted storm windows on the home.
Both Victorian homes were built in the 1890s, and shortly after becoming executive director in summer 2016, Pat Gorman began fundraising and chipping away at years of deferred maintenance.
“Right now, we’re focused on the visitors center,” Gorman said. “We started the siding and the roofing last fall, and of course Mother Nature wasn’t nice to us. Now we’re going back and replacing all the rotted wood trim.”
Other projects in progress include replacing gutters, repairing the hallway plaster, and refinishing the front and back storm doors on the visitors center. They also found termites snacking on the rotted wood.
“Any house, you’ve got to paint it, you’ve got to take care of it,” he said.
He said the home is in pretty good shape at the moment, after having the leaks fixed around the chimney, replacing the carpet, painting, and other projects.
Gorman is hoping to wait another couple of years before undertaking one of the more expensive fixes: replacing the roofs.
“Every time it rains, we look and it’s fine, so we’ve been fortunate, and I think it’s got another couple of years in it," he said.
Gorman said both houses and the barn that holds the Model T all have cedar shake roofs that are supposed to last about 30 years.
He said the next big projects will be replacing the rotted wood on the sliding door of the barn and painting the barn and visitors center once all the wood has been replaced.
Tour guide Earlene Wolfe said donations go a long way toward all the efforts to fix the place up.
“If somebody wanted to donate $100 dollars $10, it’d be wonderful," she said.
Wolfe said the only revenue for the home comes from the gift shop and ticket sales.
Tour guide Barb Wasson said there used to be yearly fundraisers, like wine tastings and galas, but they didn't bring in much revenue.
Gorman said the home received a $10,000 donation from the city last year and a tourism grant from the Dixon Chamber of Commerce and Main Street this year.
He's also pursuing different grants geared toward historical preservation.
“They give money to needy places, and we’re very, very needy; we really, really are.”