Brian A. Reis has joined the Smeja Homestead Foundation as the newly appointed Executive Director, it was announced today. Reis previously served as Executive Director of the Ellwood House Museum in Dekalb, Illinois for twelve years and before that he was Curator of Special Collections for the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust in Oak Park, Illinois. The Foundation is the owner of the historic Indian Hill Manor & Farm located on the Kishwaukee River southwest of Rockford, Illinois.
“We are excited to have someone with Brian’s background and experience to implement a new vision for the Foundation and Indian Hill Manor & Farm,” said Jerry Paulson, President of the Foundation. “He will be responsible for developing new programs for the historic manor and grounds, and the adjacent historic farm, and for creating programs and educational opportunities for those interested in historic preservation, natural landscaping, and the history of farming in the region,” he said.
While serving as Executive Director of the Ellwood House Museum, Reis steered the organization in an expansion of programing, acquisition of additional property, and a capital campaign for the restoration of spaces within the 1879 Ellwood mansion. While with the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust he served in a leadership role for programing for the 100th-anniversary of Wright’s Robie House, and interpretation of the historic sites.
Brian lives with his wife in St. Charles, Illinois and has a Master of Arts in Art History and a Certificate of Museum Studies from Northern Illinois University. “I am fascinated by old buildings and historic sites,” said Reis. “My goal has always been to share the value of these spaces with the public and to find ways to connect them with their surrounding communities.”
The Smeja Homestead Foundation is a private operating foundation established in 2001 to preserve Indian Hill Manor & Farm and to promote historic preservation and land conservation in the region. The historic site includes the manor, built in 1918 as a rural retreat for Charles C. Barrett and his wife, an early 20th century farm, and grounds and gardens laid out by noted landscape designer O.C. Simonds.