Last part of Mill Race Inn: Make it a landmark or raze it?

  • The owner of the last remaining part of the former Mill Race Inn, a small building at 4 E. State St. in Geneva, has applied to the city for permission to knock it down. A Geneva resident has since filed an application asking that it be designated a historic landmark.

    The owner of the last remaining part of the former Mill Race Inn, a small building at 4 E. State St. in Geneva, has applied to the city for permission to knock it down. A Geneva resident has since filed an application asking that it be designated a historic landmark. Mark Black | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 12/28/2017 5:28 PM

The owner of the last remaining part of the former Mill Race Inn -- a small limestone building dating to 1846 -- wants to demolish it.

A Geneva resident, however, wants it to be designated a local historic landmark.

 

City planners are reviewing both applications, said Kevin Stahr, the city's communications coordinator.

Shodeen Inc. applied for a demolition permit Dec. 20. Fred Zinke applied for landmark designation Wednesday. Because the city had not acted on the demolition permit yet, the landmark designation will have to be decided first, according to a memo sent Wednesday to aldermen.

A spokesman for Shodeen was not available to discuss the company's request. The application documents are not publicly available yet.

Zinke is the husband of Carolyn Zinke, a member of Geneva's Historic Preservation Commission, which makes recommendations on landmarking status to the city council.

According to a report by the city's historic preservation planner, the building was the second constructed at the site. No one knows what happened to the first building.

Additions throughout the 19th and 20th centuries surrounded the building. In 1933, Ann Forsyth opened the Mill Race Inn tea room in the 1846 building.

It has most of its original walls, but a concrete floor replaced a dirt floor in the cellar. At that time, Carolyn Zinke called the building "a perfect nugget" around which a developer could build something new.

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The rest of the Mill Race Inn was demolished in 2016.

The site is not in the city's historic district.

If Shodeen objects to landmark designation, at least seven aldermen would have to vote in favor to designate the building a landmark.

The building was constructed about a dozen years after settlers moved to the area. It was used for making paper, then for making and painting wagons. Later, it was used for an automobile-related business, before becoming the tea room.

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