Preservation group has big plans for state
By Christine Eufinger
Of the Intelligencer
Local officials call the state's recent $800,000 gift for
renovation and repair of several historic structures a "historic
preservation dream come true." The city's Historic Preservation Commission
recently received nearly all the funds requested on a wish list they
compiled in April at the request of Sen. Evelyn Bowles, D-Edwardsville.
"It was like buying a lottery ticket and it worked," said HPC chairman
Karen Mateyka. "I think everyone knew the state had some extra funds. It
definitely was a wish list and who would even have thought it would have
happened." Calling the state funding "manna from Heaven," Mateyka said the
gift will allow local preservation officials to take possession of
historic places without letting them slip through the cracks.
said she was delighted to see the state funds for historic preservation
and other projects after years without excess in state funds.
"Edwardsville has a historic background and we're anxious to keep that in
place, to retain our historic places rather than tear it down and build
new," she said. Announcement of the funds was made after the adjournment
of the Spring Session of the state General Assembly.
The HPC will use
the $800,000 for a series of projects including:
· $120,000 for the
renovation of the former Leclaire Academy. Officials hoped to restore the
former academy to its original condition while also repairing the roof,
plastering, heating and cooling system and adding handicapped restrooms.
The city has continued discussions with the Edwardsville/Glen Carbon
Chamber of Commerce, which may consider moving its office to the
· $500,000 to purchase the old Stephenson House on South
Buchanan. Now occupied by Southern Illinois University's Sigma Epsilon
fraternity, the house is one of the oldest brick structures in Madison
County. The house's fireplace and interior wood work is one of the finest
examples of wood working in the country for that time period, Mateyka
said. HPC members hope to purchase the house and renovate it as a museum
or for another use.
Benjamin Stephenson House - 1998
· $175,000 to repair some of Edwardsville's brick streets,
about half of what HPC requested. "It'll go about half as far as what we
wanted," Mateyka said. "We have 12 miles of brick streets that are
landmarked in Edwardsville and they are in need of repair." Though repair
is expensive, the brick streets tend to last longer than concrete, Mateyka
said. HPC will work with the city to determine which streets will be
repaired with the state money.
· $10,000 to help construct a tower for
the former Edwardsville National Bank clock near Edwardsville Frozen
Foods. HPC members have collected donations of money and building
materials of about $14,000 in recent months, but fell about $6,000 short
of their goal. Mateyka said the state money should ensure the tower is
built as planned. Any money left over would be placed into a fund for
future maintenance of the tower and landscaped area around it. Officials
hope to break ground on Monday.
· $4,000 to replace the Edward Coles
plaque at the site of
the old courthouse. At first free-standing, the
plaque was affixed to Lincoln School after it was vandalized.
HPC didn't get all the funds it requested The group had asked for extra
$500,000 for renovation of two buildings at the former N.O.Nelson/Wagner
Complex. Even that amount would have paled in comparison to the funds
needed to spruce up and repair the complex. "($500,000) isn't nearly
enough to cover what it would take to get it ready. It would have barely
touched it, but we would like to restore two or more buildings for public
use," Mateyka said.