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Cook exhibition to open at Monroe County History Center

top-of-courthouse-summer.jpg

Cook restoration efforts include the Monroe County Courthouse.

A new exhibit opening Tuesday at the Monroe County History Center details the lives of Bill and Gayle Cook and their work to restore many of the county’s most iconic buildings.

Together Gayle and her late husband Bill restored several areas in Monroe County and around Indiana, from the Fountain Square Mall to the Monroe County Courthouse.

The exhibit, “Preserving History: The Legacy of Gayle and Bill Cook,” explores sites around Monroe County and some bigger efforts such as in French Lick and West Baden.

History center director Daniel Schlegel says the purpose of the exhibit is to expose more of the Bloomington community to the Cooks’ extensive preservation efforts.

“That's what we really want, for people to show up to this exhibit and say, 'Oh! I didn’t know the Cooks did that!' and then realize the extent to which they helped save and preserve stuff,” Schlegel said. 

Even the history center was one of the Cooks’ restoration projects.

The center used to be the Carnegie Library until it was retired in the 1970s and given to the Bloomington City Redevelopment Commission for restorations.

Schlegel wants the exhibit to show the Cooks how much their efforts mean to the community.

“Unfortunately since Bill has passed on and Gayle is getting up there in age, we want to make sure she knew how much we appreciate how much they have done,” Schlegel said. “They’ve done so much for this community and across Indiana.”

The exhibit starts Tuesday and runs until July 2 at the Monroe County History Center.

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