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updated: 11/10/2013 2:05 AM

U-46 board OKs tearing down houses, sheds

Preservation group to try to save, reuse parts of buildings

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  • Elgin Area School District U-46 will raze three unused former houses and two sheds in Elgin and Bartlett. A local preservation group wants to salvage architectural elements from the houses, such as this one on Hill Avenue.

       Elgin Area School District U-46 will raze three unused former houses and two sheds in Elgin and Bartlett. A local preservation group wants to salvage architectural elements from the houses, such as this one on Hill Avenue.
    Brian Hill | Staff Photographer


Three unused houses and two sheds in Elgin and Bartlett owned by Elgin Area School District U-46 soon will be razed, but not before a local preservation group tries to salvage parts of the buildings, officials said.

The U-46 school board last week authorized demolition of the vacant houses at 737 Center St. and 612 Hill Ave., both in Elgin, and 133 S. Eastern Ave. in Bartlett, and two garages at 647 Laurel St. in Elgin, that are in poor condition.

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The board also awarded the demolition and cleanup contract to the lowest bidder, Molenhouse Environmental Inc. of Warrenville, for $87,000.

The school district will now apply for Elgin and Bartlett demolition permits.

Meanwhile, volunteers with the Gifford Park Association hope to salvage certain architectural elements from the houses before the bulldozers are released.

"If a house must come down, it is some consolation if parts of it can be spared from the landfill to help Elginites rehab their homes with authentic materials," Dan Miller of Elgin, a neighborhood advocate working with the association for 37 years, told the school board Monday. "We have salvaged over 60 houses in 30 years. We did six for U-46 in the past, always splitting the proceeds with that school's PTA."

Miller said because the houses were purchased with tax dollars, residents should be given dibs on items such as flooring, doors, trim, cabinets and siding.

"We just did three houses for St. Joe's Church at the corner of Center and Division," Miller said. "Hundreds of things were spared from the landfill and are now being used in Elgin homes."

District officials said they will work with the group and the contractor to help facilitate removal of any part of the historic structures.

"I believe the one on Center Street is around 100 years old," U-46 Chief Operations Officer Jeff King said.

King added that he is not sure of the age of the other two houses.

The school district purchased the properties for possible future expansion of school buildings and parking lots.

King said the district bought the house on Hill Avenue, behind Larsen Middle School in Elgin, along with several houses in the area to expand Larsen's parking lot and create some green space. Officials now want to run a pipeline through the property to connect with the city's storm sewers to alleviate flooding.

The house on Center Street, next to McKinley Elementary School in Elgin, was previously used by U-46's The Center House transition program, which helps students ages 18 through 21 years old develop vocational and daily living skills, and find employment.

The house on Eastern Avenue, next to Bartlett Elementary School, remains though much of its yard was used to expand the school. The Laurel Street sheds, behind Ellis Middle School in Elgin, are remnants of U-46's school bus garage.

"We need to clear the properties and will come forward in future with some of the plans for the open spaces," King said. "There is not the finances to move forward with some of the things yet. Most of it will end up being green space."

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