Two Kane County buildings — the former Mill Race Inn in Geneva and the Amasa White house on the 26-acre Settler’s Hill site in Geneva — have made the Illinois Landmarks 2018 list of Most Endangered Historic Places.
The 2018 list, announced at a 10 a.m. news conference today (Wednesday, April 25, 2018) in Springfield, reveals more than a dozen historic places the statewide historic preservation nonprofit has identified as “most threatened by demolition, deterioration or improper development.”
The announcement comes as Illinois celebrates its bicentennial.
“These endangered places still have value in providing a venue for personal connections, where we can get to know our neighbors and work together to solve problems,” said Bonnie McDonald, President & CEO of Landmarks Illinois. “With some creativity, vision and committed investment, these endangered properties can be preserved and reused. Landmarks Illinois is here to help every step of the way.”
Some of the places on the most-endangered list are among the state’s most iconic, including the Thompson Center in Chicago, Illinois state fairgrounds in Springfield and DuQuoin and the Rock Island County Courthouse. Click this link or scroll down to the graphic below for a full list.
Early Settlement-Era Buildings in Geneva
“Structures built within the first 15 or 20 years of the settlement of a community are increasingly rare historic resources, especially in suburbanized communities that have experienced constant growth over long periods of time,” Illinois Landmarks said in its online summary.
The first Eastern United States and European settlers arrived in Geneva as early as 1833. In 1836, Geneva was named the county seat of Kane County, and the original town was platted the following year.
The buildings in this listing represent commercial and residential development during Geneva’s early years.
Mill Race Inn
- Location: 4 E. State St., Geneva
- Built: 1846
- Architect: Unknown
- Current Owner: Privately owned
- Historic Significance: One of the oldest surviving commercial structures in Geneva
This one-story, limestone utilitarian building is one of the oldest surviving commercial structures in Geneva.
Located on the Fox River’s east bank, this structure was built circa 1846. Early on, it was associated with the Alexander Brothers Blacksmith Shop. “It is worth noting that blacksmith shops were one of the most important businesses in early settlement communities,” Illinois Landmarks said.
The building’s affiliation with the blacksmith shop suggests that it was possibly used either as a foundry or as a mechanics of wheelwright shop.
Around 1868, the building became part of Rystrom Carriage and Wagon Manufacturing complex. A second story was added at this time for use as Rystrom’s painting workshop.
Later, the building housed the C.E. Mann Cooperage, which produced barrels, as well as butter and cheese boxes. The building went on to house many businesses until 1933, when it was remodeled as the Mill Race Inn restaurant.
Presently, the building is moving through a controversial landmark designation evaluation.
In March, Geneva’s Historic Preservation Commission voted in favor of recommending landmark designation to the City Council. A full City Council meeting is scheduled to discuss landmark designation on May 7.
Amasa White House
- Location: 757 E. Fabyan Parkway, Geenva
- Built: 1840s
- Architect: Unknown
- Current Owner: Kane County
- Historic Significance: Former house of the White family, who settled in Geneva in 1838 and would become prominent members of the community.
The White family settled in Geneva in 1838, eventually constructing their two-story limestone Greek Revival house north of present-day Fabyan Parkway in the 1840s.
Amasa White was a farmer and prominent Geneva resident. He earned a significant profit from cutting and selling timber from his land. He had an interest in the progressive movements of the time, and he was a member of the building committee for the Geneva Unitarian Church, which was completed in 1843.
The Whites raised nine children in the impressive stone residence, many of whom went on to become involved in Geneva’s manufacturing and production industries.
The house stayed in the family’s hands into the 1920s, when it was purchased by the state of Illinois. By the 1950s, the land surrounding the house was part of the Kane County Home For The Aged and the Kane County Poor Farm.
Today, the Amasa White House is owned by Kane County. Though the property sits vacant, the county has taken care to keep the house closed and secure.
In 2007, the county published The Fabyan Utilization Study that identified the area of the Amasa White House as a possible historic settlement that would be a location for county historic buildings and educational programming.
2018 Most Endangered List
Past Kane County Sites on Most Endangered List
From the archive of most endangered …
- 2017: Route 66, Statewide
- 2016: Illinois Youth Center Auditorium and Gymnasium, St. Charles
- 2015: Historic Properties in River Edge Redevelopment Zones, Statewide
- 2012: Fox River Country Day School, Elgin
- 2009: Aurora Masonic Temple, Aurora
- 2007: Viking Ship, Geneva
- 2006: Campana Building, Batavia
- 2001: C.B.&Q Depot, Aurora
- 1999: Teeple Barn, Elgin
- 1996: Elgin Milk Condensing Co./Borden Building, Elgin
About Landmarks Illinois
Since 1995, Landmarks Illinois has asked preservationists, community leaders and concerned citizens throughout the state to nominate threatened or endangered historic properties for its annual list, the Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois.
The purpose of the list is to focus attention on sites threatened by deterioration, lack of maintenance, insufficient funds, or inappropriate development and to bolster local advocacy efforts and build support for each property’s eventual preservation. The Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois list also draws attention to important policy issues that affect these properties and historic properties throughout the state.
You can also view our 20 Years, 20 Stories webpage featuring 20 Most Endangered sites and stories between 1995 and 2015.