Belleville

This historic Belleville building dates to 1867. It is for sale — and so is the business

An historic downtown Belleville building is up for sale and the future of one the city’s oldest Main Street businesses remains in doubt.

The three-story, brick building that houses Keil’s Antiques and Gifts at 26 E. Main St. is on the market for $215,000. It’s just off the Public Square and previously was called Keil’s Hardware.

“You can’t get a better location, that’s for sure,” said Jason Buss, who owns the building.

Fifteen years ago, Buss paid $120,000 for the rights to use the Keil business name, the building and the merchandise in the store.

Jason Buss.jpg
Jason Buss, owner of Keil’s Antiques and Gifts in downtown Belleville. He is selling the historic Keil building at 26 E. Main St. and it is listed for $215,000. Mike Koziatek mkoziatek@bnd.com

“We’ve done a lot, a lot of work to the building since we bought it,” Buss said.

This work includes renovations throughout the building, new duct work and a furnace, new lighting and tuckpointing on the east side of the exterior wall.

Keil building history

Adam Keil was a stove dealer and tinner who established his business at 26 E. Main St. in 1858 and then built the current building in 1867, according to research by Bob Brunkow, historian of the Belleville Historical Society.

Keil’s son, Charles, took over in 1873 and in 1903 he added hardware to the business and added tall oak shelves, Brunkow said.

The shop remained in the Keil family until 2003.

Keil’s exterior.jpg
The Keil building at 26 E. Main St. in downtown Belleville is on the market for $215,000. It was built in 1867 by Adam Keil who started a business at the site in 1858. Mike Koziatek mkoziatek@bnd.com

The Keil building was one of three identical triplet buildings constructed at the same time.

In 1976, an arson fire required removal of the third stories of the buildings at 28 E. Main and 30 E. Main, leaving the Keil building alone to represent the Italianate architectural style and cast iron front of a Civil War-era building, Brunkow said.

BEHIND OUR REPORTING

Why did we report this story?

As part of our ongoing coverage of what’s happening in downtown Belleville, we wanted to give BND readers a glimpse into the latest chapter of an East Main Street building that was built in 1867.

Antique store

Buss said the antique and gift business will close on Dec. 24 if a buyer isn’t found.

“We’re hoping that we sell before then,” Buss said.

Buss said he doesn’t have time for the antique business because of his commitments with his real estate business and rental properties.

“I can’t do it anymore because I’m too busy with real estate,” Buss said.

Keil’s interior.jpg
The Keil building in downtown Belleville has floor to ceiling shelves and was built in 1867. Mike Koziatek mkoziatek@bnd.com

Also, Buss said the store’s general manager, Dan Hamilton, has a master’s degree in counseling and is ready for a career change after running the store for the past five years.

One of Buss and Hamilton’s recent projects included the renovation of the apartments in the former Otto Rubach home at 411 E. Washington St.

Rubach grew up in the home and was an acclaimed architect who designed the downtown Belleville Public Library at 121 E. Washington St.

A price for the antique business has not been established.

Buss said the inventory changes daily and the price depends upon what the new owner would want.

“We’re very negotiable on the business part,” he said.

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 is from St. Louis.
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