A historic landmark in Independence, the 1881 Swinney Mansion at Drumm Farm, is threatened with demolition.

This 7,200-square-foot brick structure, which served as a residence for boys from 1929 to 1975, is deteriorating rapidly. The three-story house, which contains beautiful fire places and a beautifully carved staircase, has been mothballed since 1975.

In 2002 the Andrew Drumm Trustees tried to buy time by installing a rubber covering over the roof to prevent penetrating water from causing further damage. The rubber membrane has exceeded its expected life. A few days ago an exterior porch at the rear of the mansion collapsed and had to be removed.

At Drumm Farm, we currently have 24 foster children living in three houses. Our campus also houses the offices of the Midwest Foster Care and Adoption Association. The Drumm campus is used as a center for numerous services to foster and adoptive families in the surrounding area.

We would like to rehabilitate the 1881 mansion to house the offices of the Andrew Drumm Institute and MFCAA and to provide two apartments for foster youth who have aged out of the system by reaching 18 years of age. Using the mansion would free up one or two buildings now used for offices so more foster children could be served. Other funding priorities have kept the trustees from launching a major campaign for this building.

Time is of the essence to save this building. Rehabilitating the exterior of the mansion would cost $500,000. Repairing the exterior would save the building and buy time for future fundraising to complete the project. The most expedient method of raising these dollars is for interested donors to take advantage of the Missouri state tax credits Drumm has available for this project. Individuals or businesses can recoup about 84 percent of their donation in state and federal tax savings.

It is not too late to save this historic community landmark, but we must raise the money soon. If you would like to visit the mansion or learn more about tax credits, call Rufus Little, executive director, at 373-3434.

Larry N. Blick, a former Independence city manager, lives in Independence.