Geneva grants Mill Race Inn landmark status

The last remnant of the former Mill Race Inn was made a local landmark Monday by the Geneva City Council.

“I'm shocked, I really am,” said Fred Zinke, the resident who requested that it be done over the objection of the site's owner, the Shodeen Family Foundation.

The vote was 9-1. Alderman Jim Radecki cast the sole “no” vote.

The designation means that Shodeen, which wants to raze the building, now needs the permission of Geneva's Historic Preservation Commission to do so.

The foundation had filed for a demolition permit in December. Zinke then nominated it for landmarking.

The preservation commission recommended making it a landmark.

Zinke is married to a preservation commissioner who favored landmarking it, but neither attended the March meeting when the preservation commission voted.

Since the owner objected, at least seven “yes” votes from aldermen were required.

The small limestone building was constructed around 1846, according to a city report.

It was used for various businesses, including making paper and wagon and automobile uses.

In the 1930s, it was converted to a seasonal tea room called the Mill Race Inn. Many additions were made, as the restaurant grew throughout the 20th century.

The restaurant was heavily damaged in a Fox River flood in 2007. It went out of business in 2011.

The foundation bought the property, and most of the complex was razed in 2016.

The owner contends that the building has sustained a lot of damage and is in danger of collapsing. Its lawyer argued that Zinke's application was flawed and that the council should not have considered it at all.

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