Appeal filed in Pure Oil station demolition case

The Geneva City Council has been asked to overturn the denial of a demolition permit for the former Pure Oil gas station at 502 W. State St.

And the movement to stop the demolition is growing.

The council, meeting as a committee of the whole, will discuss the matter at 7 p.m. March 26 at City Hall, 22 S. First St. A binding vote, however, would take place at a regular city council meeting.

The Geneva Historic Preservation Commission last month rejected a request to raze the building to make way for the drive-through lanes of a proposed bank, and for parking. Because the building lies in the city's historic district, the commission gets to rule on such requests.

The decision can be reversed if two-thirds of Geneva's aldermen approve.

Opponents of the plan will present online and paper petitions to the council, championing the historic nature of the building. The petition “Save Pure Oil” is online at

“It is not a good solution for the city,” said Liz Safanda, director of Preservation Partners of the Fox Valley. The group is spearheading the petition drive. To circulate or sign a paper copy, call (630) 377-6424 or email

Safanda said she and the group sympathize with the owner's feeling that the cost of repairing the building and bringing it up to current building code doesn't make sense when compared to the value of the building.

But, she said, the owner knew what shape the building was in, and that it was listed as a “significant” structure in the city's historic building inventory, when he bought it in 2006. The council should support the preservation commission, she said.

The building opened as a gasoline and service station in 1937. Its style, including the blue roof, became kind of a trademark for the Pure Oil Co. (which eventually was sold to Union 76). The building still has the overhead garage doors, and signage from its time as a service station.

“It just kind of adds to the fact that in Geneva, nothing is cookie-cutter,” Safanda said.

Joe Stanton, through his Fagans Inc. company, owns the building. Stanton bought it to protect views from a new two-story building he built to the west of it.

Stanton has a bank client that wants to use all of the first floor of the new building. The bank's architects tried to find a way to use the service bays of the former station for the drive-through, he said.

The former station houses a gardening store.

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