Madeline Huling later passed away in 1914 and left $50,000.00 to purchase land and build a home for children. She stipulated that the building only be used for children, and for the name Annabelle to be used in some form as a memorial to her daughter. The money was overseen by the Illinois Children’s Home and Aid Society.
The Huling Home for Children was dedicated on June 18, 1924 and was open until 1975. Later it was reopened as a residential home for young boys and girls. The home later closed, and sat empty, until becoming a detention home for teenage girls which only remained open for a short time. Several years later, Beacon Therapeutic came and spent $30,000.00 in renovations to open a residential treatment home for boys and girls. They lost their funding and never opened.
During the early 1980’s, Sandra “Sam” Burdette operated a home child care center. When the demand for local childcare came increasingly great, she discussed with her husband the option of opening a child care center. They searched for several months for a suitable building and were not successful. Finally, someone mentioned “The Huling Home” and they decided to look into it.
What a wonderful building it was! Sam and her husband Don traveled to Kankakee, Illinois and met with a judge at the circuit court to get permission to use the building as a child care center.
After they had permission, work on the building began. It was in very bad condition due to vandalism, and the fact that the heat had been off for several years. The walls were lying on the floor! With the help of the Champaign County Department of Corrections Work Release Program, Sam and Don were able to renovate the building for children and The Huling Home re-opened once again on March 18, 1985 as Anabel Huling Early Learning Center!
The center initially opened with only 7 children and 2 staff members who taught, cooked and cleaned. Now Anabel Huling Early Learning Center has two sites and serves 108 children ages 6 weeks to 12 years.