Old Village Hall in Oswego will probably not be saved
By Linda Girardi For Sun-Times Media October 16, 2013 1:22PM
Village trustees have been discussing redevelopment options for an area known as the Village Hall Block, which includes the former Village Hall built in 1923. The village owns two other buildings there — at 63 W. Washington, which houses the Oswego Chambe
Updated: November 18, 2013 7:44AM
A pitch to save the old Village Hall on Main Street in downtown Oswego didn’t go exactly the way historic preservation advocates had hoped for.
“They basically said the building is coming down,” said Karen Knight, chairman of the Oswego Historic Preservation Commission.
On Tuesday, members of the Historic Preservation Commission requested the village apply for a grant from the nonprofit Landmarks of Illinois, to fund an independent study to evaluate the condition of the one-story building at 113 Main St.
Village trustees have been discussing redevelopment options for an area known as the Village Hall Block, which includes the former Village Hall built in 1923. The village owns two other buildings there — at 63 W. Washington, which houses the Oswego Chamber of Commerce, and 65 W. Washington, which is leased to Firehouse Pizza and Pub.
Knight said the original south side of the old Village Hall building housed the police station and jail, while the north side was once home to the village’s volunteer fire department. The village moved into the building in 1974 and built an addition. The village vacated their government offices there in 2008 when the new Village Hall opened at 100 Parkers Mill.
Knight told village trustees the building represents Oswego’s strong sense of history and suggested the village apply for a matching grant to hire an architect or structural engineer to evaluate the integrity of the structure and provide the estimated cost to preserve it.
Knight estimated the study would be around $2,000 to $3,000.
“We would like for the village to save the building, but we do realize it may not be possible,” Knight said.
Knight said the building is a reminder of Oswego’s start as a small farming community and they would like to know if the structure can even be saved.
“History has a way of repeating itself,” Knight said of the former library building at 64 Main Street, which was originally recommended for demolition 50 years ago but was never done.
“If you want to retain the historic integrity of the downtown, you just can’t tear down the buildings that have a great deal of significance. We just want to see if the building is worth saving,” Knight said.
“If we don’t save Oswego’s history, how can we ask a private property owner to go to a great cost to save their building when it would be so much easier to tear it down and build a new one,” she added.
But village trustees were not supportive of expending village funds for a building in the condition that it is in, but were in favor of saving portions of the structure, specifically the red brick facade of the wood structure.
“The building is in violation of the village’s own building codes. Should we apply for a grant when we don’t care what the conclusion is?” Trustee Gail Johnson said.
“My concern is the building is falling apart,” Trustee Scott Volpe said. Volpe said there does not appear to be “a will of the board” to invest in the couple of remaining years left in the life the building and questioned if there was an alternative option to incorporate parts of the building into a new structure.
Trustees also expressed concerns a study may be a deterrent to prospective developers as the village discusses the redevelopment of the Village Hall Block.
“There is a consensus of the board to preserve the historic integrity of portions of the building. As much as we know the HPC won’t be happy with that scenario, we would like for you to help us determine what that would be,” Johnson said.