BELLEVILLE — Local historic preservationists have finished their restoration of an 1876 home on East Washington Street.
The Belleville Historical Society has found a buyer and hopes to close this week on the house at 804 E. Washington St., according to Larry Betz, president of the historical society. Profit from the sale will fund the society's museum project.
For more than a year, volunteers worked to save the building, which was residential rental property before it went into foreclosure. It sat vacant for several years, was deemed to have structural problems and then slated for demolition.
"Our primary focus was to save a historic house in a historic district," Betz said. "The plus for the city is there's going to be a house and lot now that's going to be on the tax rolls. Otherwise it would be a liability to the city."
Betz said the group has put in about $55,000 to restore the German-American folk house. The cost includes a new brick sidewalk in front of the house.
The house has new window seats, flooring, laundry facilities and a porch. The interior features original exposed brick, and a post and rail salvaged from homes in Belleville and St. Louis.
Belleville resident David Wiesen, a history enthusiast, volunteered to paint the interior and exterior of the house if the society provided the materials.
"My attitude was, 'If I were to live in this house, what would I have done?'" Betz said. "I'm proud with what we were able to do with this house ... It was a team project, without a doubt."
Betz said the first person who looked at the house, a Millstadt man, bought the house for $83,500.
"It's perfect for him," Betz said. "He wanted to live in an old house but not have to do too much work on it."
Betz, along with Ward 2 Alderwoman Melinda Hult and her husband, Ralph Hult, provided interest-free loans to fund the project.
Betz said the profit earned from the home, after restoration costs, will mostly go toward another project at 633 E. Garfield St.
The former Garfield Saloon -- most recently, the Brick Street Bar -- will house an 1890s museum to celebrate the city's history of saloons and breweries.
The society will use the money to buy artifacts and do exterior work to the building, and aim to have the museum open by the city's 200th anniversary in 2014, Betz said.
The society initially estimated renovation costs to the East Washington house to be about $30,000. City inspectors, however, said it would cost $50,000 to do the work needed to bring the property to code.
After starting the work, Betz said he found major plumbing issues and other surprises, and also decided to put in a new porch and other upgrades.
The additional work was a factor in delays that led to legal intervention from the city. The society had to follow a timeline for the restoration work to adhere to construction permits and a judge's decision to halt the demolition order.
On Monday, the City Council agreed to settle the case and dismiss more than $4,000 in legal fees the city could have recouped from the society.
The City Council also voted to convey an adjacent vacant lot at 800 E. Washington St. to the historical society so it could be sold with the home. The deed transfer is pending.
In turn, the society agreed to pay the city $3,850 for a brick sidewalk installed in front of the home this summer and reimburse the city $967 for an asbestos survey required for construction.
In an unrelated project on East Washington Street, the St. Clair County Historical Society will move its administrative offices into a house just east of the society's Victorian House and Museum.
Earlier this year, the county historical society bought the house at 703 E. Washington St. for $22,000 and plans to expand in the next few years.
Contact reporter Jacqueline Lee at email@example.com or 239-2655. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/BNDBelleville.