Meredith Home, Millstadt water tower among state's endangered places

News-DemocratApril 1, 2014 

— The metro-east has two of the 10 most endangered places in Illinois this year, an old hotel building in Belleville and a water tower in Millstadt.

The Meredith Home/Hotel Belleville made the list from Landmarks Illinois with the help of an application by the people trying to save the old building at 16 S. Illinois St.

The old Millstadt water tower, meanwhile, stands at the corner of Madison and Breese streets. The village board voted in October to solicit bids to tear it down but the organization, the Friends of the Old Millstadt Water Tower, is trying to raise money to save the tower.

Rick Ortiz, one of the founders of www.projectbelleville. org, a website dedicated to the Meredith Home, said it was good to get on the list, but also bad.

"It's not a designation you really want to receive," he said. "It basically says you are teetering on the precipice. But it does bring some attention to your property."

The hotel opened in 1931 and was turned into the Meredith Home for retired people in 1962 by the Catholic Diocese of Belleville. The home was closed in 2010 and purchased by the city of Belleville.

In 2011, Attorney Bruce Cook gave the city money to pay off its mortgage on the building if the city would tear it down and create a memorial park to his daughter.

The city has yet to start the demolition and is waiting to see if any developers will put forth feasible proposals to save the art deco building.

Ortiz said the group of people working to save the building is trying to take as much of the marketing burden from the city as it can. It includes some of the people in the Belleville Historical Society.

"We're not just protesting, we're also helping develop it," he said.

He said they appreciate the media attention the appearance on the endangered list has produced and hope the statewide attention will spur someone to come to the rescue.

They are hoping for the same result as the old Turner Hall in Belleville, which was on the 2011 list. It has since been rescued by Kurt Artinger of Replacement Services LLC, who is renovating the building.

The Millstadt water tower was built in 1931 and is one of a few surviving "tin man" style towers in Illinois, according to Landmarks Illinois. The city built a new, larger tower in 2011.

Another project on the list is the Hamilton Primary School, which is in Otterville in Jersey County -- on the fringe of the metro-east.

The school opened in 1835 as the first free and integrated school in the nation, according to Landmarks Illinois. The current building was built in 1873 using limestone from the original building.

The Otter Creek Historical Society is working to raise money to make repairs on the building.

Other projects on the list include the U.S. Marine Hospital in Galena, Camp Algonquin in McHenry County, the Robertson Building in Cass County, the McAuley Schoolhouse in DuPage County and the Central Manufacturing District, the Uptown Theatre and the Halsted and Willow Gateway in Cook County.

This year there's a special 11th item, the Federal Historic Tax Credit Program, which is threatened with elimination.


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