Historical survey of Libertyville buildings planned

Proceeding with a survey of buildings in downtown Libertyville will be among the initial definitive actions of a historic preservation commission formed more than a year ago.

The seven-member commission recently heard a presentation from an expert in the field and expects to make a recommendation to the village board early next year to do the work.

A survey of structures for possible landmark or historic district designation in the area bounded by Route 176, commuter rail tracks, Brainerd Avenue and First Street, to determine age, architectural styles and other details has been a goal of the commission since members were appointed in October 2014.

Whether the survey would include residential and commercial buildings is among questions to be answered before proceeding, according to Johanna Bye, associate planner for the village and liaison to the commission.

"We just want to make sure we have a clear definition for our survey," Bye said. "The main purpose is we want a guideline to help us (determine) what is historically significant in Libertyville. There are a lot of criteria," she added.

That can include architectural style, but also identification with the work of a certain architect, or association with an important event in village history, for example.

Last month, the village board informally agreed to provide $10,000 to fund a survey. Commissioners discussed what that would entail with Lara Ramsey, principal of Ramsey Historic Consultants Inc., of Chicago, who submitted a proposal for $10,000.

"Frankly, there hasn't been money allocated for us to do that until now," said Mike Kollman, a local architect and commissioner on the panel. "We are starting to move. We needed an outside consultant to be the expert to start quantifying and qualifying the areas."

The village board would need to approve the contract, and the work is expected to take about six months.

A survey will set the stage for potential designations of local landmarks or historic districts, and findings will be made available to the public.

Generally, that designation means proposed changes - usually to the exterior - would require review and approval by the commission. Village officials have said residential designations would be voluntary, but there is a moratorium until April 28 protecting existing commercial and industrial properties from demolition until the survey is complete.

"We're hoping a lot of the owners will approach us. We've got to start educating people (the landmark designation) actually helps the value," said Jim Hartshorne, commission chair.

Bye said the Cook House, which is on the National Register of Historic Places and a popular attraction downtown, could be the first to go through the local landmark process detailed in the village's historic preservation ordinance.

"It's a village-owned property so it makes sense," she said. "We're hoping in January to get the ball rolling on that."


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