BELLEVILLE — The Belleville Historical Society is attempting to save another historic home from demolition.
The historical society successfully rescued three homes in the past three years and is hoping to do the same for the home at 100 and 102 N. 11th St. in Belleville. In what would be its biggest project yet, the historical society needs to raise about $100,000 to renovate the building and has not yet firmly committed to the project.
Built around 1870, 102 N. 11th St. served as Belleville's first train depot. Julius Heinneman later converted the building into a meat market. In 1902, he had the much larger 100 N. 11th constructed as an attachment, to serve as his family's home.
The building was neglected for years and Mayor Mark Eckert said the city has received numerous complaints about it.
Larry Betz, president of the historical society, acknowledged neglect but sees potential in the building.
"The people in the neighborhood call it an eyesore, but we call it a grand old lady," he said.
The city agreed to stop the condemnation process if the historical society can present a viable renovation plan and the current owner agrees to transfer the property to the historical society.
"I understand history. I appreciate history, but I have to be realistic," Eckert said. "We need to know where the money is coming from and what the timeline is."
The group has raised about $38,000 in donations and interest-free loans, Betz said. Estimates still are being gathered to determine the total project cost.
Betz said he would like to see the rehabilitation of the house as an impetus for the rejuvenation of West Belleville.
"This neighborhood could be a gem," Betz said.
West Belleville was a separate city from 1852 to 1882. It also was home to the now defunct Stag brewery.
Located near Lindenwood University-Belleville, the neighborhood has the potential to attract university faculty and staff, Betz said.
The City Council approved a contract with Lafser and Associates on Oct. 15 to complete the nomination process to have the neighborhood of West Belleville declared a historic district.
Rehabilitating the house is good for West Belleville and the entire city, Betz said. "If someone is living there, it is on the tax roll," Betz said. "If it is demolished, it is just another vacant lot the city will have to cut the grass on and maintain."
However, the historical society has not decided to accept the project. Considerable work must be done on the home and there are many unknown elements about what that work entails, Betz said.
Betz plans to have a better understanding of the scope of the rehabilitation before the historical society votes March 27 on whether to accept the project. If it does accept the project, it will have to present a renovation plan at an April 1 court hearing for the condemnation of the home.
Negotiations are ongoing with the current owner, but Betz expects the property to be donated if the judge approves the renovation plan.
The historical society renovated a home at 804 E. Washington St. in 2012. The group invested $55,000 in the home and sold it for $83,500.
The profit from that sale of the home was used to toward a 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 historical society uses the building as a venue to hold events. The group aims to have the museum open by the city's 200th anniversary in 2014, Betz said.
A home at 1106 W. Main is in the rehabilitation process. It is used as a starting point for the historical society's West Belleville tours.
If you'd like to donate, visit bellevillehistoricalsociety.org.