It’s crunch time Wednesday night for your chance to own piece of Belleville’s “French Connection.”
The 1854 home at 109 E. D St. will go on the auction block at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the St.Clair County Event Center operated by Adam’s Auction & Real Estate Services at 1550 E. Illinois 15 in Belleville.
Shortly after the home was built, it was described in a newspaper as the “most tasteful and elegant” residence in the city.
The first owner was Lucien Cabanne, who was a great-grandson of prominent St. Louisian Pierre Chouteau and was a business partner and brother-in-law of A.G. Edwards, who founded the A.G. Edwards brokerage firm, according to research by the Belleville Historical Society.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to Belleville News-Democrat
Other French families followed Cabanne and built homes near his in Belleville.
“We had an early French Connection,” said Judy Belleville, the collection coordinator for the Labor & Industry Museum in Belleville and former member of the city’s Historic Preservation Commission.
She said Cabanne purchased the Hinckley Mill in Belleville in the 1830s.
“To lose such a specific reference to our history would be going backward in considering what historic preservation can do for a city with such an important history like Belleville,” she said.
“This is an early French influence that is tangible,” Belleville said. She and other preservationists hope that someone will buy it and restore it so people can live in it again.
The vacant building’s current owners, Bud Zipfel and his wife, Jackie Elmore, have been trying to sell the property for several years and have been seeking a demolition permit from the city.
A building analysis commissioned by Elmore states the interior needs a “significant amount of repairs.”
Elmore said if the building is not sold during the auction Wednesday night, she will once again go before the Historic Preservation Commission to plead her case in November.
She plans to tell the commission: “What do you guys want me to do with this building? Allow me to have a demo permit, whether I use it or not. I want to have that option.”
The brick home originally had two stories but a third floor was later added. The building is in the Hexenbuckel Historic District, which means the Historic Preservation Commission has oversight on whether the building can be demolished. This district includes homes along North Jackson, North Charles and North Church streets northeast of the Public Square.
In July, the Historic Preservation Commission approved a motion asking Elmore to put the property up for auction again. She previously had the home in an auction in 2015 but she did not get a buyer.
Elmore said she paid $500 to have Adam’s Auction market the property. A couple of people visited the property last weekend to check it out before the auction.