Landmark status sought for Urbana home

Landmark status sought for Urbana home

URBANA — A number of west Urbana residents are hoping the city council will slap a historic landmark tag on a house in their neighborhood, while the church that owns it is protesting the proposal.

City council members on Monday will consider whether to approve historic landmark protection for a house at 1207 S. Busey Ave., named the Reed-Sutton house for its former owners, who were both University of Illinois professors.

Twin City Bible Church bought the property in 2009 and has protested the historic landmark designation. That protest means the city council will need a two-thirds majority vote to designate the house as a landmark.

Historic landmark protection makes it harder for an owner to alter a building. Changes must go through the city and cannot significantly alter the building's historical value.

The house is in Louise Kuhny's backyard, and she is concerned about the church's apparent plans to pave the yard and turn the house into its main offices.

The plan "would preserve a residential 'feel' to the overall property and provide a transition from the main facility to the surrounding neighborhood, which is residential," according to a March 2011 publication from the church.

Kuhny said she does not want a parking lot in her backyard, and she does not want to lose what she thinks is a historic house, either. She said the property is notable for its "well-regarded" architect, Edward G. Oldefest; its former resident, "world-renowned" chemist Dr. Frank Reed; and the rare material used to build it, Joliet limestone.

The Tudor/English revival-style house is believed to be about 73 years old.

Other residents have sent letters of support to the city. The church, meanwhile, has protested the proposal.

Just before the historic preservation commission on June 5 recommended that the city council approve the historic landmark status, a church official told the commission that he did not believe the house met the criteria for designation.

The Reed-Sutton house is one of two historic landmark designations that the city council will consider on Monday. The other proposal is for the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority house at 1404 S. Lincoln Ave. Its owners have also protested the designation.

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David Illinois wrote on June 17, 2013 at 8:06 am

I wish people like Kuhny would put their money where their mouth is!

Joe American wrote on June 17, 2013 at 8:06 am

If Kuhny doesn't want a parking lot in her back yard, and doesn't want to lose what SHE thinks is a historic house, then maybe she should have stepped up to the plate and purchased the property herself instead of just sitting back and telling others what to do with theirs.

bkp wrote on June 17, 2013 at 9:06 am

I applaud the local residents for trying to fix what is really a zoning issue. If the house is zoned residential, no commercial business could put in offices and a parking lot. Since they are a church however, commercial zoning unfortunately doesn't stop them.

Joe American wrote on June 17, 2013 at 9:06 am

The city takes care of making sure that zoning ordinances aren't violated so that citizens can spend their time on other things, like stickiing their noses in other peoples business.. 

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on June 17, 2013 at 12:06 pm
Profile Picture

What a load of crap. It's their business, and their business alone if  I can't

  • see it
  • hear it
  • smell it

from MY goddamned property, Uncle Joe.


Now get off my lawn.

Joe American wrote on June 17, 2013 at 1:06 pm

Move.  It's a buyer's market.

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on June 17, 2013 at 2:06 pm
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It's so odd. The old right wing stood for law & order.   I liked that right wing.


The new right wing stands for ... what is it, some kind of anarchy? But with more Jesus?

Joe American wrote on June 17, 2013 at 4:06 pm

I've said the same thing about the nomination/application process regarding commercial & residential properties as I have about churches.  Jesus has nothing to do with this.

jms wrote on June 17, 2013 at 10:06 am

bkp, that's exactly how I see it.

Joe American wrote on June 17, 2013 at 11:06 am

Enlighten yourself.

Danno wrote on June 17, 2013 at 1:06 pm

Interesting; thx for the link, Joe. Who knew that Urbana had an 'Urbana Comprehensive Plan?' Understanding the Sciences and, not the legal lingo of such matters; I kinda' thought a 'Historical Designation' would be sought by the owner of a property, at least with their 'consent.' Guess a person has to hire a lawyer to fight such a thing. Sounds almost like Eminent Domain by fiat. Perhaps the Church could just go along with it; then, having a Historical status, they could file paperwork to have the adjacent properties declared as Blighted, an embarrasment, to be torn down. On another note; how would such Designation impact a property insurance policy premium (I'm guessing up, maybe a lot)? Just pondering...

jms wrote on June 17, 2013 at 10:06 am

It's a beautiful house. Unfortunately, churches often buy up property, sometimes with an individual to cover the church's interest, and then they start to let them fall into disrepair so that they can convert them into parking lots, office buildings, etc. They pretend to care about the neighbors, but their actions say otherwise.

The Twin City Bible Church owns a block in a residential neighborhood, and they have every intention of taking it over. This is a beautiful neighborhood. I'd hate to see it destroyed. I also think it's time to end the non-profit status of churches.