Linda Weisenstein is not sure yet what she’s going to do with the former Cabanne family home built in 1854 but she agreed to buy it for $5,000 Wednesday night.
“It needs to be saved and not torn down,” she said of the home once described in a local newspaper as the “most tasteful and elegant” residence in Belleville.
The large, brick home at 109 E. D St. has been vacant for about 10 years. Current owners, Bud Zipfel, and his wife, Jackie Elmore, had tried to sell the building for several years and had sought a demolition permit from the city. A building analysis commissioned by Elmore states the interior needs a “significant amount of repairs.”
Weisenstein, who said this is the 15th building she has purchased with most of them dating to the 1800s, said she expects many people to give her ideas on how to redevelop the three-story building.
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An upscale bed and breakfast was one idea she suggested after a real estate auction Wednesday night. She was the only bidder in the sale conducted by Adam’s Auction & Real Estate Services at the St. Clair County Event Center.
In one of her recent projects, she renovated a 19th century home on East Garfield Street and moved in last year.
The first owner of the home at 109 E. D St. 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.
The home originally had two stories but a third floor was later added.
Other French families followed Cabanne and built homes near his in what is now the Hexenbuckel Historic District in Belleville. This district includes homes along North Jackson, North Charles and North Church streets northeast of the Public Square.
“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.
If the building had not been sold Wednesday, Elmore was planning to go before the city’s Historic Preservation Commission to seek a demolition permit in November.
Zipfel, who played for the Washington Senators in 1961 and 1962, decided to get into the real estate business after his professional baseball career ended.
He set up eight apartments in the former Cabanne home on East D Street after he bought it for $18,000 in the early 1970s.
“It was the first building I bought and it’s the last one that I’ve got,” said Zipfel, who said he once had 38 buildings. “It’s time for us to get rid of it.”
Elmore noted the building needs a complete rehab but she looks forward to seeing what Weisenstein does with the home.
“I’m glad to see that it will have a life after us,” Elmore said. “I never really wanted to tear it down.”