Historic Awards mugshot-105 S. State St. -1

By Bob Balgemann


BELVIDERE – Belvidere property owners have made improvements to their historic homes and buildings, while taking special steps to honor their heritage.

On May 12, some of those property owners were recognized by the Belvidere Historic Preservation Commission during the annual reception, held this year in another historic venue, the Apollo Theater on State Street.

Historic Awards mugshot-110 E. Second St. - 2Past award nights have been held in the renovated Boone County Historical Museum and the Swift House, located at 127 Locust Ave., which is the most recent structure to be named a Local Landmark.

Properties in the 2016 spotlight are: Sheri Casey and Anthony DalPra’s Dari Ripple, at 105 S. State St; Michael and Anita Munger’s home at 916 South State St.; Randall and Cathleen Yerk’s home at 528 Warren Ave.; Rebecca and Pete Girardin’s home at 919 N. State St.; Gracie and Ron Wait’s home at 110 E. State St.; Ken and Ellen Meddings’ home at 315 W. Hurlbut Ave.; and Bill and Sara Wolf’s home at 805 N. State St.

Jillian Fuller, who helped bring back walking tours of historic neighborhoods, received the Priem Award for her work in historic preservation. She is the former director of the history room at Ida Public Library on State Street.

“I am honored to be recognized with the Priem Award,” she said. “I loved working at the Ida Public Library (from 2010-2015), serving on the Belvidere Historic Preservation Commission and being involved in the Belvidere and Boone County community. Boone County has a fascinating history and, in assisting people with their history research and genealogy, I just fell in love with all of the stories I heard and all of the figures in the county’s past.”

Historic Awards mugshot-315 W. Hurlbut Ave. - 3She now is marketing and communications librarian for the Bridges Library System in Waukesha, Wis. She’s in charge of promoting the services offered by the 24-member libraries in the Bridges system.

The Belvidere commission decided several years ago to honor individuals for their long-term devotion to historic preservation. In 2013, Millie Priem was the first to be so honored.

Then-Mayor Fred Brereton, who presented her with the plaque, called her “the real thing.” He told her she had set the bar high for those who would follow in having their names added to the plaque, which hangs in the city council meeting chambers at city hall.

The former city-county interim planning director, Kathy Miller, also was recognized for her extensive work in historic preservation. Under her direction, a survey of two downtown business districts several years ago led to their being named to the National Register of Historic Places.

A new survey now is being conducted of homes around the Boone County Courthouse, which is historic in its own right.

Miller retired in April.

Historic walk coming up

Historic Awards mugshot-528 Warren Ave. - 4A lot of people turned out for the Fuller-led historic walk in 2015, which featured homes on East Lincoln Avenue.

One of them, at 410 E. Lincoln, was built in 1837 and has been named to the National Register.

The house at 401 E. Lincoln wasn’t part of the tour but it still commanded attention because it reportedly is haunted. Known as the Nellie Dutton home, this picture postcard structure dates to the Civil War.

As the story goes, Nellie Dutton drowned herself in the nearby river when the man she was to marry was killed during a battle. Now, her ghost supposedly has taken up residence there.

Members of the commission, at the March 22 meeting, talked about having another walk, in October. The houses to be included are still being discussed. However, should the so-called “red house” be part of it, one of the commissioners said someone could wear a wedding dress, as Nellie did the night she died, to lend an air of suspense to the tour.

Historic Awards mugshot-805 N. State St. - 5Another possibility included a story teller along the route.

Suggestions also included that the tour be confined to one neighborhood, so participants can walk it rather than a shuttle bus being needed. So, this proposal continues to be a work in progress.

Information provided on past tours included a history of the houses and the people who lived in each one. The different architectural styles, of which there are many along East Lincoln, were discussed. Also, there were descriptions of what life was like in the late 1800s and early 1900s, when most of the homes were built.

So far, Belvidere has designated 31 houses and buildings as Local Landmarks, with four of them on East Lincoln Avenue. The city has five buildings on the National Register and 19 homes along West Hurlbut Avenue in a historic district.

Members of the historic preservation commission are Chair Becky Tobin, Vice Chair Kris Bryan, Gill Pivoras, Lisa Irvine Kummerow, David Kummerow, Filitsa Platopoulos and Belinda Roberts.

The city’s new community development planner, Gina DelRose, provides staff assistance for the commission.

Historic Awards mugshot-916 S. State St. - 6Historic Awards mugshot-919 N. State St. - 7

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