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Work to save historic buildings

The demise of the 1886 building at 63 Chester St., C, is unfortunate. REO Speedwagon, Bruce Springstein, Dan Fogelberg and Cheap Trick all played there. The Gallery Ltd. store in the offices was a remarkable place of character and curiosities.

I did not grow up in Illinois but worked at The Gallery for a college holiday when my parents moved to C-U. The Chester building later went on to represent inclusivity for the LGBTQ community.

Downtown Champaign is now a registered historical district (west of the Illinois Central tracks; the east side is also integral). Local historical architecture (like the Metropolitan Building and Barrett Hall) is more than brick walls. It is cultural history. Lincoln rode through and later stepped off the train downtown, heading to Urbana as circuit lawyer, politician and friend, purportedly cashing a check at the Cattle Bank building before the Civil War.

Renovating old buildings requires planning, patience, fidelity to architecture, financing, attention to detail, sometimes anguish. Chris Knight, Jeff Melander, Isaac Kuhn (and more) have shown commitment. My husband owned/restored two historic-conforming buildings on North Market Street in the 1980s, and University Avenue for his store. The work on and legacy of historic buildings is worthwhile.

My grandfather compiled the 1940 Historical Map of Champaign County, caring about collective culture. Loss of historical buildings is a symptom of a distracted community (note Green Street).

Please support commerce in local historical buildings and efforts to protect historical architecture. Support the Preservation and Conservation Association and Champaign County Historical Museum (Cattle Bank).



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