Sarah Reichling wants to save her family’s heritage embodied in the former Reichling’s Tavern, which her grandmother ran for decades in an 1870s-era brick building on West Main Street in Belleville.
But she didn’t have this dream until after her father, Jackie Reichling, died in a motorcycle crash in Belleville in July and she inherited the building.
Perhaps you’ve seen the “ghost ad” on the tall building at 1018 W. Main St. A ghost sign is an advertising sign painted on a wall years ago and the paint has faded. Part of the sign on Reichling’s building reads “Edler’s fresh shrimp daily.”
This building was one of 12 historic buildings and street scenes featured Saturday in the Belleville Historical Society’s fourth annual Paint Historic Belleville Plein Air Art Auction. Artists donated their paintings and they were sold in an auction for a total of $3,575 at the Garfield Street Saloon. The proceeds will be used to support preservation efforts in Belleville.
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“I think it’s a great thing that the historical society recognizes all these buildings before they topple down and the days of yesteryear are gone,” Sarah Reichling said.
Larry Betz, president of the historical society, said Reichling’s building and two others were targeted this year for the auction because they face demolition. Betz said the event is designed to point out “the nice history of Belleville” and to give recognition to artists in the metro-east.
Reichling’s building was condemned by the city the day before her father’s funeral but she said demolition is on hold for now because she is working with city officials as she tries to repair the building.
To help raise money for the repairs, Reichling started a Go Fund Me page online.
Reichling’s building was originally a bakery in the 1870s, according to a report prepared by Bob Brunkow, historian for the Belleville Historical Society.
Reichling, who is from Rockford, remembers going to the bar to visit her grandmother, Anna Reichling, so the building has great “sentimental value” to her.
“I’ve been coming here since I was a young child,” Sarah Reichling said. “It’s a great community to be in.”
She said that people have been stopping by while she has been cleaning out the building and they tell her “heartfelt and touching” stories about the times they enjoyed being in her grandmother’s tavern.
And Reichling would like to complete the circle and open a bakery and restaurant in the building that primarily was used as a tavern. Along with the Reichling family, George Krug and Frieda Edler ran taverns there, according to Brunkow.
The Reichling family stopped operating the tavern in 2007.
The two other buildings scheduled for demolition are the former Security Abstract and Title Co. building, which now houses the city’s police department at 10 W. Washington St., and the Adam Gintz mansion at 1021 W. E St.
The Belleville Police Department is moving to 720 W. Main St. and the city said it needs to demolish the old Security Abstract building to make City Hall more accessible to the disabled.
This building is the only one in the city with a terra cotta tile front and it was designed by Otto Rubach in 1929.
The Gintz home was built in the 1880s by Adam Gintz, who was owner of the Western Brewery. It was later donated to the St. Paul’s Senior Community.
St. Paul’s Senior Community recently built a new home for senior citizens and plans to demolish the old nursing home and the Gintz home.
Dennis Spencer, chairman of the St. Paul’s board of directors, said representatives from St. Paul’s met with the historical society about whether the Gintz home could be saved.
“Several conclusions reached were that the current configuration of the Gintz house bears little resemblance to its original style and function, the condition of the building and its location on the campus site were not conducive to a cost effective, integrated inclusion in our new physical plant,” Spencer said in an email.
Artists under pressure
The artists on Saturday morning were painting “en plein air,” which is French for “in the open air.”
Dan Krause, who painted the Reichling’s building, said he had to gear himself up to work quickly before the 1 p.m. auction.
Krause, who is a ceramics teacher at Belleville West High School, said he didn’t know a lot about the Reichling’s building but added, “I’ve passed it a thousand times.”
“There’s a lot of creative pressure” in painting the scene in one morning, he said.
And at one point he had to deal with the wind blowing over his paints and almost blowing over his easel.
Across the street from Krause, retired Air Force civil engineer David Cornell of Lebanon was painting the Ebeling-Maurer house at 1106 W. Main St. This brick structure was built in about 1877 on what was then the village of West Belleville’s public square, according to Brunkow.
The Belleville Historical Society acquired this building in 2011 with the long-term goal of opening a museum to honor the former village of West Belleville, which was incorporated from 1852 to 1882.
Cornell agreed with Krause that it was “very challenging” to finish his painting in one morning.
But Cornell, who is 81, said painting “keeps me young.”
Fourth annual Paint Historic Belleville sites and artists
Artists painted at these seven sites Saturday:
▪ Stone cottage at Bellevue Park, 401 Bellevue Park Drive; artist Bill Evans
▪ Jackson Street Church, 219 S. Jackson St.; artist Susan Rogers
▪ Walnut Hill Cemetery Civil War monument, 1101 Mascoutah Ave; artist Brad Eilering
▪ Ebeling-Maurer house, 1106 W. Main St.; artist David Cornell
▪ Reichling’s Tavern, ghost sign, 1018 W. Main St. A ghost sign is an advertising sign painted on a wall years ago and the paint has faded. Artist Dan Krause
▪ Associated Bank, 100 E. Washington St.; artist Joyce Nuetzling
▪ Abend Street scene; artist Greta Pastorello
Shawn Cornell was scheduled to paint the former Security Abstract and Title Company building, which now houses the city’s police department at 10 W. Washington but he wasn’t happy with his three attempts to paint the building Saturday so he donated a landscape painting. His father, David Cornell, who painted the Ebeling-Maurer house Saturday, will paint the Security Abstract building for the historical society, which wants to memorialize the building because it is slated to be demolished.
Artists previously painted these four sites:
▪ Adam Gintz mansion, 1021 W. E St.; artist Carolyn Karasek
▪ Belleville Exchange Club building, ghost sign, 404 Sycamore St.; artist Michael Anderson
▪ Brite-Way Cleaners, 1811 W. Main St.; artist Marilynne Bradley
▪ Bank of America, 23 Public Square; artist Gary Karasek
Source: Belleville Historical Society