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Article posted: 11/13/2012 1:00 PM

Wheeling to level historical building, save fixtures

By Deborah Donovan

Efforts to save a historically significant building in Wheeling have failed, but the village's historical society will keep some of its past alive by saving interior doors and light fixtures for future displays.

The Wheeling village board voted Monday to give three oak and fir doors and three glass and brass light fixtures from the village-owned building at 115 S. Milwaukee Ave. to the Wheeling Historical Society.

Board members approved the donation after society members determined they do not have the resources to investigate whether the village legally can give them the building, said Trustee Bill Hein, who initially objected to demolition plans in September.

The village bought the two-story brick building with more than $400,000 in Tax Increment Financing funds. Officials said turning the building over to the society after buying it with TIF dollars would not be an allowable use of such money.

The building, constructed as a butcher shop in 1916 and later owned by former village president Hans Schmidt, eventually will be demolished, along with one next door at 119 S. Milwaukee Ave.

"I'm very disappointed," Hein said. "It seems like we're forgetting our past very quickly. We have funds for everything else. These eleventh hour rescues never work."

A resolution awarding a demolition contract for the buildings was removed from Monday's agenda, for reasons unrelated to historical status. Village Manager Jon Sfondilis would not specify why a vote on the contract was delayed except to say "there was more that needed to be discussed."

The village would like the two lots prepared for redevelopment, and the contract will be on the agenda for the board's next meeting Nov. 19, Sfondilis said.

According to a report from Mark Janeck, Wheeling's director of community development, the village has been discussing redevelopment of the sites for the past few years. The village has not found a developer for the parcel, he added.

The second building is owned by Dean Svigos, who also owns the shopping center with Fresh Farms International Market at Dundee Road and Milwaukee Avenue, about a block away. Janeck said Svigos uses the building for storage.

Hein, who is also vice president of the historical society, said the organization has preserved pieces of buildings before, including the door off the vault of the Wheeling State Bank, bricks from that building and items from a local veterinary office.

Only a few original buildings on Milwaukee Avenue survive, said Hein.

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