February 2016 Minutes


hursday, February 18, 2016

Historical Society Museum



Thurs., Feb. 25: Applications for Mayor’s Awards due at City Hall

Mon., Feb. 29: Housewalk Committee meeting, 7 p.m. at the Historical Society Museum

Mon., March 7: Preservation Grant Workshop, 6-8 p.m. at Gail Borden Library

Thurs., March 17: St. Patrick’s Day & GPA’s general membership meeting at the Historical Society Museum

Fri., March 25: Preservation Month activity forms due at City Hall

Fri., April 1: Applications for preservation grants due at City Hall

Sat. & Sun., Sept. 10 & 11:  HOUSEWALK in the Elgin Historic District



Kim Bauer, Paul Bednar, Sara Boline, Bill Briska, Bill Decker, Barbara Evans, Kevin & Natalie Kearny, Paul & Sue Kuester, Tom & Moe Lee, Miriam Lytle, Dan & Pat Miller, Matt Martin, Maddie Richmond, Christen Sundquist, Doug Tomsha, Officers Bob Engleke & Dave Cox



GUEST SPEAKER: Christen Sundquist, Elgin Historic Preservation Planner

Christen, who lives in GPA’s historic district with her husband Matt Martin, oversees Elgin’s historic districts and landmarks as well as serves as the staff liaison to the Heritage commission.

First on her agenda this evening was touting the Preservation Grant Workshop scheduled for March 7 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Gail Borden Library. Learning what makes one’s application an excellent one as well as getting help in filling out the actual form is invaluable, so don’t pass up this opportunity. Christen also noted that although those who are awarded grants will have to match them, they can apply for a loan from Neighborhood Housing Services to cover this.

Christen then touted the relatively new Historic Elgin website at www.historicelgin.com. (Those whose cell phones have a QR reader can access the website via the QR marker on the bookmarks being circulated.)

Aware that much valuable information was contained in the applications for historic plaques, Christen and intern Kim Bauer rescued them from the basement of City Hall and began scanning and digitalizing them for this website as well as updating the photos— not a small task in that 500 structures have been plaqued in Elgin. Already available online are 95% of them; the rest are expected to be by May. An added feature for each is a timeline with the names of the each structure’s occupants up to 1970. (They are not listed later than this because of privacy issues with current occupants.) The website, which also has an audio feature, is an adaptive site that is always being updated, so if you have questions or comments, contact Christen via email at [email protected].



GUEST SPEAKERS: Kim Bauer & Maddie Richmond, Pedaling Preservation Blog

Both Elgin natives who confessed to having had a negative view of their city when growing up, Kim and Maddie are now young adults on a mission: to promote the architectural history of Elgin to the young and to thus give them pride of place. This they are doing via Pedaling Preservation, a blog that Kim, who now has a master’s in Historic Preservation, started when, after college, she lived in Denver, Colorado and pedaled around the city taking photos of arresting buildings, researching them, then writing about them. Upon her return to Elgin to serve as a city intern, she joined forces with Maddie, an artist and photographer who teaches art at St. Ed’s. Exploring Elgin, One Building at a Time, thus far Kim has written about and Maddie has photographed the Elgin Watch Factory’s Observatory, Elgin Fire Station No. 5, the First Universalist Church (a.k.a. the pocket-watch church on Villa St.), the Professional Building, the Klinger Saloon at 107 East Highland and the Masonic Temple. Available, too, are tri-fold brochures about each of these.

Listening to these two young women who are so enthusiastic about engaging young Elginites and are doing so without any financial compensation gave all of us definitely much older adults in attendance hope for the future of preserving Elgin’s past. Do visit their blog at https://pedalingpreservation.wordpress.com or simply google Pedaling Preservation. We’d also encourage you to like them on Facebook at https://pedalingpreservation.wordpress.com. If you have a group to which you’d like them to speak, please contact Kim at [email protected]



R.O.P.E. REPORT: Officer Bob Engleke ( [email protected] 847-354-3388)

Introduced was Officer Dave Cox, new to the 301 beat, which includes the GPA area. With the EPD for 10 years, Cox comes to our area from the SWAN area. He is also on the EPD SWAT team. As a beat officer, he will be one of three officers responding to calls in the GPA area.

There has been an increase in car burglaries in the GPA area, six in the last three weeks to be precise. The EPD, working to apprehend the perpetrators, again urges everyone to lock their cars. And if you see people loitering around cars, please inform the EPD.

The raid on 15 N. Channing St. several weeks ago yielded weapons, several pounds of marijuana and the arrests of gang members. Because investigations that produce such results often start with neighbors’ complaints, please don’t hesitate to inform the EPD of possible illegal activities in your area.

Officer Engleke is working with the landlords of two problem properties, one on the 300 block of North St., the other on the 400 block of E. Chicago St.

Although Elgin landlords are required to take EPD’s Crime-Free Housing class to learn what they can/cannot do in regard to tenants, it is still a challenge to get some to cooperate when tenants are problems: after all, say some, the tenant is paying the rent. Without the landlords’ cooperation, it can take from six months to a year to get rid of the bad apples. Frequent complaints, however, give the EPD some leverage, so don’t be reluctant to make them.



  1. Historic District (Paul Bednar [email protected])

Although the Historic District often ends up being a committee of one, Paul would welcome anyone willing to join him on it. He also welcomes emails with suggestions for activities and/or issues that need to be addressed.

Disturbed by the number of street light in GPA’s district that are out (most recently 35), Paul contacted the City to ask for action. As a result, in a few weeks Elgin Historic District streets will be much better lit.

Paul also plans to encourage the City to address other maintenance problems in order that our area looks its best for the September housewalk, which will feature homes here. Though the City has always put extra effort into making sure whatever area the walk is in is spruced up, it was suggested that we ask them to start addressing problems early in the summer as some will take more than a week or two to remedy. Christen Sundquist volunteered to address this with the City.


  1. Housewalk (Pat Miller [email protected] )

On Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 10th and 11th, we will celebrate the 35th year of the historic house tour.

The homes featured will be in the Elgin Historic District. Although Dan Miller has commitments from three households, the goal is a minimum of eight, which is the reason we added the second day to the tour. If you are not among the 1,300 people who have liked Elgin Historic House Tour on Facebook, consider doing so in order to get sneak previews of the houses that will be on tour.

Because an excellent group of people volunteered to take on the major tasks of the tour, Pat agreed to be the chair of this year’s tour. We are, however, still in need of house captains. If you are willing and/or know of others who would be good in that position, please contact Pat or Donna Leetz ([email protected]).


  1. Membership (Moe Lee  [email protected] )

GPA currently has 159 members from 109 households.

The membership potluck will be held the third week of April, the specific date to be announced later. The place we hope will be Lords Park Pavilion



  1. Minutes and Treasurer’s Report

Unanimously approved were the minutes of the November 19th general membership meeting, as was the treasurer’s report that GPA has $21,217.73 in its checking account and $81,266.85 in four CDs for a total of $102,484.58.


  1. Standing Committee Chairs

Approved unanimously was the Board’s recommendation of the following committee chairs: Pat Miller, Housewalk; Moe Lee, Membership; Paul Bednar Historic District. These chairs also serve on the GPA board.


  1. D.C. Cook Mansion (more recently Bowes Retirement Center at 105 N. Gifford St.)

Upon investigation, the rumor that there is a plan to demolish the 1885 David C. Cook Mansion and put a park there proved to be fact. The city manager feels it meets all the criteria for being razed. Nevertheless, Dan Miller contacted the representative of its owner, the Mutual Bank of Omaha, to urge that a feasibility study for other possible uses be done. The representative was not opposed to this and also informed Dan that the bank would be interested in donating the building to a not-for-profit organization. Fortunately, GPA can get not-for-profit status by partnering with the Elgin Community Network. As this property would be a major undertaking, a special board meeting will be called to discuss it.


  1. Historic Elgin Phone App

When Milan Shah admitted that he was unable to make the phone app a successful reality, he also agreed to refund the $2,500 downpayment GPA had given him. This should have been received in December. As it was not, also to be discussed at the upcoming special board meeting will be what steps GPA should next take.


  1. Rental Licensing

As frustrating as it may be, federal regulations now require that anyone who wants to know if a house has a rental license must first submit a Freedom of Information Act [FOIA] request. Doubly frustrating, however, is the fact that it is currently difficult (if not impossible) to learn what the City is doing after being informed that a house with rentals is not licensed. Christen Sundquist volunteered to find out why this is so.



During the meeting, we grazed on Sara Boline’s tasty chunks of popcorn laced with M & Ms and sinfully rich brownies from the Rotary Club, which was also meeting at the museum.


The meeting was adjourned at 8:45.


Respectfully submitted,

Barbara Evans, Interim Secretary