The first year we lived in St. Charles we were perplexed to see a home on Prairie Avenue resembling a very large half-finished bomb shelter. Much of it was covered by a tarp draped over sloppily applied polyurethane foam on the roof. We felt certain a class city like St. Charles would not allow this neighborhood blight to exist in that condition much longer.
Sadly, that was in 1985. Records appear to indicate the owner, Clifford McIlvaine, began this "renovation" in about 1975, and now 37 years later it still exists in ever changing degrees of ugliness and code violations. It has existed throughout the entire tenure of mayors Fred Norris (1977 to 1997) and Sue Klinkhamer (1997 to 2005).
Klinkhamer has defended her inaction with the weak excuse that McIlvaine had a previously issued permit that was open ended. In my opinion her administration could have taken action to change that situation based on the best interest of the city, as Mayor DeWitte has now done. Maybe she was just too busy handing out liquor licenses to bother.
Under Norris the historical 1860 Farnsworth Mansion was allowed to be demolished by a private developer to make way for condominiums. Ironically, the mansion stood just a few blocks from the McIlvaine eyesore, and yet the administration could not find the conviction to save that structure rich in history and beauty, while lacking the conviction to remove a neighborhood blight. Where there is a will there is a way, especially in politics. I guess the will was just not there.
Conversely, Mayor DeWitte is showing the conviction and will to end this charade. One of McIlvaine's few supporters has said he should be "honored" for his stand.
McIlvaine is no hero.