Metro-East News

After sale falls through, Belleville to consider demolition permit for historic home

Tour of historic 1854 home in Belleville

Drive north on North Jackson Street from downtown Belleville and you can’t help notice the three-story house at 109 East D St. The house is in the Hexenbuckel Historic District and the original structure was built in 1854.
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Drive north on North Jackson Street from downtown Belleville and you can’t help notice the three-story house at 109 East D St. The house is in the Hexenbuckel Historic District and the original structure was built in 1854.

The fate of an historic home once described as the “most tasteful and elegant” in Belleville is back in the hands of the city’s Historic Preservation Commission after the closing for the proposed $5,000 sale of the building was not conducted.

Commission members will meet at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday to consider the demolition request from the building owners, Bud Zipfel and his wife, Jackie Elmore. The three-story home at 109 E. D St. is in the Hexenbuckel Historic District.

Linda Weisenstein, who recently was appointed to serve on the Historic Preservation Commission, had agreed during an October property auction to buy the 1854 home for $5,000 but the closing did not occur.

Weisenstein declined to comment for this article. However, she told the Historic Preservation Commission last month that she was told “The person who owns the house is withdrawing from the sale” and that the “closing company did not have the easement.” The easement gives the property owner the right to access the rear portion of the lot.

But Elmore told the board that the easement document was found and that the “title office agreed to stay open late” to accommodate Weisenstein.

After hearing remarks from both Elmore and Weisenstein, board Chair Molly McKenzie said, “We have a lot of he said, she said going on here which is just clouding a lot of the thinking on this I believe.”

Board member Jack LeChien followed that comment with a motion to table Elmore’s demolition request and give Elmore and Weisenstein three weeks to work out a deal and clear up the easement document question.

But Elmore said she has not heard from Weisenstein since the Historic Preservation Commission’s Nov. 20 meeting.

The home has been vacant for about 10 years. Zipfel and Elmore have tried to sell the building for several years and on Aug. 30, 2017, they asked the city for permission to demolish it.

A building analysis commissioned by Elmore states the interior needs a “significant amount of repairs.”

The first owner of the home 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.

Since the home is in the historic district, Elmore and Zipfel need to get the Historic Preservation Commission’s permission to tear it down.

“I feel like we’ve been beat up on this whole deal,” Elmore told the board. “It’s been 15 months and it just keeps dragging on and on. And I’ve done everything that we can do to satisfy you and you still are never going to give me a permit, I know that.

“My personal opinion is the building needs to be taken down,” she said. She told the board in July and in November that if the home is demolished, the lot could be donated to the city for a mid-1800s garden. But she also said she is still open to selling the home.

Want to go?

What: Belleville Historic Preservation Commission meeting

When: 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Where: Second floor conference room of City Hall at 101 S. Illinois St.

Mike Koziatek joined the Belleville News-Democrat in 1998 as an assistant editor and is now a reporter covering the Belleville area. He graduated from Marquette University in Milwaukee and grew up in St. Louis.


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