Steve Gregg, former Assistant City Manager lived in the College Park Historic District for many years. His untimely passing was a big blow not only to the many individual friends and neighborhs along Church Street and the broader historic neighborhood but also the city as a whole. He is deeply missed.
Over the last several years there have been a number of neighborhood events initiated by the neighbors living on Church Street most notably the annual “Pumpkins In The Park” event hosted in Horace White Park.
Following Steve’s passing it was agreed that the monies raised by these events should be used to honor Steve’s memory. Considering several options it was decided to have a park bench in Beloit’s oldest historic park, Horace White Park dedicated in Steve’s name.
Horace White Park is at the head of Church Street and just a couple blocks down from where Steve lived with his daughter Lilly. Further, given ongoing reinvestment in this important historic park with new historic themed lighting and benches, improved walkways and other improvements adding a dedicated bench for Steve worked well into ongoing improvements.
The newly dedicated park bench was strategically located in the park facing from the park down Church Street. A nice view down one of Beloit’s nicest, most intact historic streets.
The Beloit NPA, the neighborhood association encompassing all three historic districts and the older residential neighborhood extending beyond the strict limits of the historic districts also contributed funds for the effort.
Last week, was the dedication of the newly installed bench in honor of Steve. He’ll be missed.
Beloit Daily News – Tuesday October 30, 2012
In the fall of 2007, The Church Street neighbors decided to raise money for their neighborhood park. Together, they and friends carved 100 pumpkins. The pumpkins were placed in Horace White Park. They were then lit and put on display for 90 minutes and then sold for $5 each. Ace Hardware donated popcorn and a popcorn machine. The group also offered free popcorn, candy, hot chocolate and apple cider.
The neighbors carved pumpkins and sold them for years. And last year, many people came to carve and light the 2,000 pumpkins purchased. This fall, the neighbors had raised enough money to purchase the bench ($1,679) and it was placed in the park with a plaque honoring a dear neighbor and friend, the late Steve Gregg.
Two presentations: 1) Historic District Signage 2) Introducing “Great Unveiling”
I’d read in a Beloit history that at one time Beloit was known for having the single largest concentration of cobblestone homes or structures than in any other single community within the broader stateline region. I recall reading that at one time there numbered over thirty such structures in Beloit alone. They’re increasingly rare.
At last count… we’re down to three. (let me know if I’ve missed any)
- The Rasey House – 517 Prospect St.
- The Lathrop-Munn House – 524 Bluff St.
- The Turner-Barber House – 326 St. Lawrence Ave.
There are some fine examples outside Beloit within the region but it’s unfortunate that we’ve lost this visible, tangible link to our own past. It’s the removal of these links that denude a community of it’s unique identity. It’s one more factor that diminishes residents identification with a “community” and not just some generic, strip-malled, cul-de-sac’d place. (subur-cough-bia)
The last one to go was the cobblestone, two story out building behind what had been Finnegans RV that moved to make way for Walgreens on Broad Street. That structure had not been maintained and severely and insensitively “remuddled” to the point that it is debatable whether it could have been saved for adaptive reuse. At any rate, that one now also is gone.
The Cobblestone House at 316 St. Lawrence, Beloit WI
According to records I have at hand, the original cobblestone portion of the house was build in the early 1850′s by Hiram Turner, a mason. (I’ve heard there was a small number of masons in the region at the time who were responsible for building these structures. If you know more on this please let me know and I’ll be happy to share here. email@example.com)
The later two-story cream brick wing was added on the east side of the house in 1871. Additionally it is noted for having had a single story limestone south wing on the south side of the original cobblestone home which had been removed. This removal seems to have been fairly recent is it can be seen in the 1981 picture below. For it’s time it would have been considered an exceptionally fine home for it’s residents.
The current condition
Fast forward to today. Like so many homes, while loved by so many families over the last one-hundred and sixty years (imagine the life, lives and stories contained within this single home) accumulated differed maintenance has taken its toll. That said, in spite of what it may look like to the casual observer or those who have little appreciation for such things, it’s in remarkably good shape and repairable. (Consider what the new homes built on the horizon will look like in fifty years much less one-hundred and fifty.)
The house is eminently salvageable for contemporary living without truly compromising the authenticity of the home if there is awareness and will. There are entire communities and contemporary lifestyles being lived in homes this age and older across both coasts and in the south. The Midwest too often seems not to recognize or value this. Beloit is an old and proud community with a rich and significant history. Beloit needs and deserves to retain and celebrate it’s authentic historic built environment.
Through caring and pro-active actions by numerous individuals, primarily at the city and principally the Beloit Community Development Authority presented their COA (certificate of appropriateness) to the Landmarks Commission outlining the nature and extent of the proposed renovation last night. You can view the COA and plans here.
At base the plan is to convert this property from a sub-standard multi-family rental unit to a single-family, owner occupied residence. Efforts will be made to maintain as much of the original and historical architectural integrity of the home as is feasible and practical.
The Beloit Community Development Authority
I’ve had the opportunity to tour several of the homes the CDA has redeveloped in recent years principally those within or near one of Beloit’s three historic districts. I must say I’ve been very impressed. These are not, neither are they intended or expected to be “historic restoration” projects. They have been exceptional in the quality of work performed and sensitivity to the original and authentic character of the homes and by extension the neighborhoods. They’ve done what so many other communities have done within their communities and targeted a particularly distressed home on a street or neighborhood and redeveloped it. They have ulterior motives.
Typically, as I’ve observed the level of redevelopment far exceeds anything being done by neighboring property owners. The intent is not break-even. It is raising the bar, resetting the standard and providing the much needed spark that can often lead to other property owners following suit. Neighborhood renewal as we know does not happen over night and I don’t expect it here either. I have though personally witnessed neighborhood renewal happen time and again in other communities. I’ve witness it. It’s hard to see though, like paint drying.
At some point another property owner, encouraged does something a little more than they might have otherwise. Then another, etc. It can and does work, with time and encouragement.
A WIN for Beloit
Me, I’m thrilled to see our city step in and take on this project that I have little expectation that anyone else would. It would be a shame to lose, in time yet another truly historic Beloit home. I believe it’ll be good for the rest of the street, the broader neighborhood and the rest of us as community members.
Travel + Leisure magazine is published monthly by the American Express company and distributed nationally with over 4.8 million readers (according to its media kit). Additionally they produce one of the leading travel related websites at www.travelandleisure.com
Beloit WI included among Best US downtowns
In it’s May 2012 issue by Wayne Curtis, Travel + Leisure selected Beloit to be included among it’s listing of “America’s Greatest Main Streets”.
“Cheers to these small towns for great Main Streets, where you can admire architecture, sample the local flavor, and find a lost America.”
~Travel + Leisure Magazine (May 2012)
It’s likely the writers noticed Beloit as a result of Beloit having received national recognition last year at the annual conference of Main Streets, a program sponsored by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
If you’re not familiar with Beloit…
- Downtown Beloit through the lens of Old Onliner.
- Broader community through the lens of Old Onliner.
- Downtown Beloit courtesy of Taran Rampersad
The Madison Trust for Historic Preservation, a local partner of the National Trust is presenting a series of workshops for owners of old and historic homes.
Regardless of whether you’re a do-it-yourselfer or contract for professional services this is precisely the kind of information you need as an old house homeowner to get the best outcome for your project.
I don’t see that preregistration is required. Mark your calendar today. We plan to be there. Hopefully we’ll see you there as well.
There is more and more talk and media reporting about “walkable” neighborhoods and communities. Even within new, distant planned developments you’ll find efforts, in some cases, to try and provide walkable proximity to community amenities beyond windswept neighborhood parks.
There seems to be a growing appreciation for a lifestyle that allows for walking to shopping, restaurants, entertainment, church, community gathering centers such as festival and arts centers, schools and well, your neighbors. This is particularly nice for the kids to have a neighborhood of friends that are not a car ride away. (Can you imagine driving your kid(s) for play dates?)
Yesterday our community held one of several yearly downtown festivals which included a parade. (Beloit’s Lighted Holiday Parade) It’s a big event. Lot’s of people, most of whom drive in, look for parking only to jockey to get out when an event ends. If you live in the historic district… you walk the few block and you’re there. You tend to run into neighbors as they’re enjoying the same convenience. When you’re done… you walk home. How cool is that?
Walk or bike to work?
Now you’re just talking nonsense.
And if you’re lucky your employer is among the downtown businesses. I’ve read any number of accounts of new business centers built out in a distant green field touting their LEED certification. And while the building itself is “green” what typically is not mentioned or taken into account for “Green” valuation is the fact that every single employee now has to drive miles and miles to get there. It lies outside of municipal mass transit grids and bike routes, not to mention walking from any possible residential housing.
Some employers however have already recognized that lifestyles and priorities of their target employees are changing. They’re rediscovering the benefits of a downtown location. How cool would that be to be able to walk or bike to work. I for one, moved from where I was taking the train to where I currently live because in part, it was within biking distance of my employer at the time.
Today, Sears Holdings Corp. and AT&T Inc. are looking to escape their compounds in northwest suburban Hoffman Estates. A shrunken Motorola has space to let in Schaumburg. Sara Lee Corp. eyes downtown office space after less than a decade in Downers Grove. Companies from Groupon Inc. to GE Capital hire thousands in Chicago while their suburban counterparts shed workers. ~Crain’s Chicago Business, May 30, 2011
- IBM’s Adaptive reuse of downtown Dubuque building – What? People actually working AND LIVING in the same community?
- Corporate Campuses in Twilight – Crain’s Chicago Business, May 30, 2011
- Companies Head Back Downtown – FORTUNE, July 14, 2011
- Are the Millennials Driving Downtown Corporate Relocations? – Brookings, June 10, 2011
They (millennials) are voting with their feet for a hip, high-density walkable lifestyle and a reverse commute to the ‘burbs is not in the cards for most of them.
~Brookings, June 10, 2011
George Halvorson – Chairman & CEO, Kaiser Permanente
Rediscovering Walkable Neighborhoods.
People are rediscovering the benefits of traditional, closer-in neighborhoods, closer to center-city amenities. Walkable neighborhoods.
I’ve friends who would never consider walking… anywhere. While living in the city, if valet parking was not available this was a serious consideration. Walking simply was not done. In far flung suburban developments, well there’s just not anything to walk to. That is unless you’re simply out for exercise and not going anywhere in particular.
While a smaller fraction of the home buying public, for a number of reasons there is growing interest in walkable neighborhoods.
A side benefit in addition to lifestyle, “quality of life” considerations… how about it’s simply good for you to do.
Do you live in a “Walkable Neighborhood”? Find out.
So, what do you think? Leave a comment below.
Ok, so this is really weak simply reposting an article from someone else. It’s a great article though and too good not to share. In fact, in addition to giving it a read, I’d encourage you to print it out and share it with a friend. We have a packet of information we share with new neighbors to one of the historic districts and I think we should add a hard copy of this to that packet.
Anyway, there are a couple “Blunders” that really resonate for me… well actually most of them do but two I’m compelled to add an Amen to.
Blunder #7: Installing New Windows
Now you may recognize this as a recurring theme on this neighborhood blog. This is due to several things.
First, in our own old house we have lovely, original, old and repaired windows. They provide an aesthetic that is unmistakable and substantial to the character of our home. AND combined with storms they’re warm and efficient.
Secondly, in our community the unified marketing message from the replacement window manufacturers, retailers and installers has resulted in a year-over-year doubling of homeowners removing otherwise original and repairable windows for new replacement windows. The result, IMO has been the making-more-ordinary and generic homes that derive much of their character as a result of their windows. This while not really saving any money or increases in energy efficiency as claimed (discussed elsewhere). It’s my opinion consumers are getting bamboozled by inflated claims.
Anyway, I appreciate Fine Homebuilding’s editorial autonomy and integrity in including this in a magazine that has MANY replacement window advertisers and NO window repair advertisers. In fact they highlight a great point that in a 2004 article they suggest that “30% of the windows being replaced are less than 10 years old…” That bears repeating. 10 year old replacement windows are themselves being replaced.
It’s widely reported on that the break-even on the investment of replacement windows can stretch into the range of 60 years or more. So it’s unlikely the home owner will ever get that money back and they’ve de-graded their home in the process. Increasingly, that subset of the home buying public that values and seeks out distinctive old homes do not like finding replacement window on a prospective home. These are the very same people who most likely would be those most interested in your “historic home”.
Blunder #9: Ignoring Historic Tax Credits
Here in Wisconsin for example home owners can receive a 20% tax credit on qualifying (and pre-approved) work done their home… IF they live within an existing historic district or an individually listed property. There’s a minimum of $10K in work to be done but this can be spread out over five years. The process is not that difficult and while no one is going to do it for you there are folks to help guide you. You can get more information about WI historic tax credits here.
A little extremist… yes, perhaps. It’s the lead-in for the following short 3-min. video.
I would agree though with the premise. That suburban sprawl is unsustainable, counter productive to the development of “community” including personal interconnectedness and general quality-of-life values for a growing number of people… and families.
Oh… and it’s funny and very well done.
“New Urbanism” If it’s new to you has been an increasingly popular goal for community planners, developers and importantly, the general public when considering where they choose to make their home.
Further, I would propose that while we’re seeing any number of NEW New Urban developments created from scratch, the natural and best examples of “New Urban” places to live are in fact… OLD Urban communities that have retooled to meet contemporary needs. These OLD Urban communities leverage their existing infrustructure and “Sense of Place” typically found in traditional, urban communities. This is typically largely dependent on communities preserving their individual identity and this in turn is largely dependent upon a community preserving and/or employing adaptive reuse to maintain it’s historic built environment.
Interested to know more about what this New Urbanism is about here’s another insightful, short video.
No. Sorry… This is not a historic district walking tour of Beloit. Though in time we’d love to host one.
This is though, to my mind the single best run and enjoyable historic district house walk I’ve attended. And we’ve attended quite a few as it’s something we particularly enjoy doing.
The Elgin Historic District House Walk
Sat/Sun Sept. 10-11
Among the great things about this house walk is that it’s not all about grand mansions. You’ll see that the homes open and available to tour are more mainstream, middle-class homes. They illustrate what is do-able with regular folks homes who don’t live in mansions. You may get a glimpse into what potential your own home may have. This is the 30th annual house walk. And Elgin has worked out how to put on a show. You will have a wonderful time.
I mention this as Ana and I will be attending Sunday the 11th. We don’t generally make personal appeals on the website here but we’ll be going and would love to have you join us. The more the merrier. Yes?
As we used to live in that area we’ve a few friends down there and would welcome the opportunity to make some introductions. It’s good to have like-minded friends & acquaintances who can share what worked for them… what did not. While it’s a larger city and there are differences between our communities we do share many community & neighborhood dynamics and characteristics.
At any rate, The Gifford Park Association is the long standing neighborhood organization that has made dramatic changes to their community with regard to their historic districts and surrounding “vintage” neighborhoods. They’re worth knowing about.
We’d love some company joining us to attend the house walk. Let us know.
Don’t know how long Harris Ace Hardware had been at the 1034 Pleasant Street location above but I understand the pic on the left is from the 40′s. As buildings evolve over time, at some point they enclosed the east facing front of the store, bought up the house lots to the left for a parking lot and moved the entrance to the south side of the building. Just a few years ago they moved from this location all together and a win-win for them and the community.
Beloit too has evolved from using the river system to serve the purpose of transport and back-door industrial waste disposal…. as was common practice. Having proactively reclaimed the riverfront it’s now a very popular and much used recreation and park space. Very much now the front door. The transformation is nothing but remarkable. The “after” pic is not great. It’s primarily purpose is just to show before/after. It’s not really close enough to do justice to what’s been done with the park area. You’ll just have to see for yourself. Or check out Old Onliner’s Pics.
And what about Harris Ace Hardware? Well, they’re doing just fine as well. They too have evolved moving their long-standing downtown Beloit presence even closer to downtown into their new building at 430 Broad Street. (We love our downtown Beloit merchants. They’re walking/biking distance from the historic districts.)