Sunday, June 17, 2018

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Plan for Eau Claire's his­toric Randall house falls through

Couple hoping to save home in path of development say it isn’t salvageable

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A local couple’s plan to buy a former politician’s historic home to save it from demolition won’t move forward after a walk-through of the home proved it likely wouldn’t survive relocation.

Anton Smets and his wife, Rae Schilling, recently toured the former home of Eau Claire County’s first treasurer and one of the city’s first settlers, Adin Randall, with others interested in preserving it for its historic value.

The house at 526 Menomonie St. is facing demolition as developer John Mogensen announced plans to remove and replace all buildings on the side of the block that faces the Chippewa River.

No decisions have been made on what to do with the house. The Landmarks Commission meets Monday to discuss its future.

“I would expect that through our deliberation and discussion that we’ll probably come to some sort of decision on what our expectations are,” said Landmarks Commission member and architect Dale Poynter.

Schilling and Smets, who have renovated and lived in numerous historic homes in Eau Claire, initially considered paying to relocate the home to a site they own on First Avenue.

Smets said those who toured the home all agreed that it isn’t salvageable.

“There appeared to be some issues with the structural integrity and feasibility of moving it,” said senior planner Patrick Ivory, who also walked through the home.

According to the National Register of Historic Places, the home was built in 1862.

Smets said rotted planks on the home’s exterior had been “slathered with paint over the years.” Removing and replacing the planks with plastic would defeat the purpose of preserving the historic home, he said.

Additionally, plaster in the home’s interior would likely crack if the house was moved, he added.

“The bigger disappointment was that the house had no charm inside,” Smets said, opining that its only attraction is its history.

Expressing interest in saving the home from demolition was the Landmarks Commission, Historic Preservation Foundation and the Randall Park Neighborhood Association after Mogensen sent a letter offering to donate it.

If the commission or foundation continue their interest in preserving the home, discussions will continue on what other options are available. 

“If it’s not feasible, then the issue would be dropped,” Ivory said, noting that demolition would likely occur as long as Mogensen decides to pursue his redevelopment plans. 

Contact: 715-833-9206, elizabeth.dohms@ecpc.com, @EDohms_LT on Twitter


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