DIXON, Ill. (AP) — Ronald Reagan’s boyhood home may have to close its doors due to financial woes.
The Ronald Reagan’s Boyhood Home and Visitor’s Center seeks donations to stay afloat, according to a WREX-TV report. “Probably a year or two at the very, very most,” Patrick Gorman, the center’s executive director said of how long it could keep the Dixon home open without a turn in fortunes.
The center generates $30,000 a year through tours and the gift shop, but operating expenses cost about $70,000 a year, creating a $40,000 annual deficit, Gorman said.
The house is listed on the National Register of Historical Places but receives no government funding. Reagan was the 40th U.S. president.
Jerry Schnake, the center’s assistant director and a tour guide at the home, said the center borrowed $100,000 from the home’s board of directors in 2016 to do work, leaving them $70,000 in debt.
The foundation that manages the home bought four rental properties near Reagan’s home in 2012 to make more money.
Even if they sell the properties for a profit, Gorman and the board of directors face an uphill battle.
“The plan was for further expansion and that plans has not come to fruition, so the homes are currently on the market for sale,” Gorman said.
Kevin Johnson, an artist who created a piece specifically for Reagan, visited the center.
“How do you put that into words?” Johnson asked of losing the home. “I came out (of the video prior to the tour) bawling. I learned new facts and it was just wonderful information.”
Gorman said closing the home would a tragic loss for the community and history buffs.
“It can’t happen. It just cannot be allowed to happen,” he said.
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