Allerton Park and Retreat Center has announced a new initiative focused on making the Park more accessible, thanks to a lead gift from Sandy Haas of Champaign.

Haas’ gift, and future donations to the Accessible Allerton fund, will allow more people to experience the history, nature, and art found at the estate, which was built over 100 years ago by Robert Allerton.

Since Allerton used to be a private residence, not everything here is accessible,” explained Director Derek Peterson. “Although some areas have been updated over the years, we still have a long way to go. Additional gifts to this fund will ensure we can accelerate the changes needed for added accessibility.”

Haas’ gift to initiate the fund was partially inspired by Timothy Nugent, a former University of Illinois’ professor and pioneer for disability rights and accessibility.

Tim worked tirelessly towards a goal of making every aspect of the University accessible to all, and after a period, his vision for accessibility spread throughout our country and to other parts of the world,” explained Haas. “I’m sure Tim would have loved the idea of Allerton Park being accessible to all, and I’m honored to play a small part in continuing his legacy by making this gift.”

While the current focus will be on physical accessibility into the Gardens and Mansion, future funding will study how to improve access into the natural areas for those with limited mobility, and eventually, increased accessibility for other types of disabilities.

We understand that the term ‘accessibility’ is ever-expanding, and this fund will help Allerton adapt to new trends and ongoing needs,” explained Peterson. “As we embark on initiatives to repurpose historic buildings and increase programming, we want to make sure everyone is able to enjoy these opportunities equally.”

Allerton’s clear vision for the future, outlined in the 2015 Master Plan, was also important to Haas in her decision to support the Park, which was gifted to the University of Illinois by Robert Allerton in 1946.

Being aware that Allerton has gone through periods of highs and lows, it was important to me to know that there is a commitment, as well as a carefully developed vision and high-level plans, in place to help ensure that the Park’s current upward trajectory will continue for many, many years to come,” said Haas. “Once I reviewed the Master Plan, I was convinced that I wanted to be part of making its vision a reality.”

To lend your support or learn more, visit or contact Allerton’s Associate Director of Advancement, Bridget Frerichs, at<> or 217-333-3287.