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Alexandria Black History Museum
Alexandria,  VA
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Hegeler Carus Foundation & Mansion
LaSalle, IL

In 1856, Edward Hegeler, a 21-year-old graduate of the School of Mines in Freiberg, Saxony, Germany, immigrated to the United States with a classmate, Frederick Matthiessen. The two young entrepreneurs moved west across the country until they reached La Salle, Illinois, where the ready availability of coal and access to Wisconsin-mined zinc ore provided the perfect setting for their business venture: a zinc smelter or refinery. Their timing was impeccable as the Matthiessen & Hegeler Zinc Company (M & H) was to become a major provider of zinc used in the production of armaments during the Civil War. By 1880, M & H had become the largest zinc company in the U.S.-a manufacturing empire on the Illinois prairie.

Designed by W. W. Boyington, the architect of Chicago's famous Water Tower, with the interior created by noted German-American interior designer, architect and furniture maker August Fiedler, the Hegeler Carus Mansion was built in the Second Empire style. The Mansion is perhaps the most intact example remaining of Fiedler's interior work-and a rare example of high-style Victorian interiors in general. The Mansion interior is virtually unchanged since the 19th century. It is faded, but still original. Restoration of the original decor is on-going. The result is an extraordinary glimpse into the unity of architecture and interior decoration. To this day, the Mansion stands as a grand presence in the Illinois Valley.

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Our fundraising efforts go toward expanding programs including an educational outreach program to impact local school children, as well as operating fund and restoration.

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