Audubon School granted historic landmark status

Posted Online: April 24, 2013, 9:21 pm
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By Kevin Smith,
The Rock Island Preservation Commission on Wednesday unanimously voted to grant historic landmark status to the former Audubon School.

The Rock Island-Milan School District has given Fairway Stores Inc., the potential buyer of the school at 2617 18th Ave., until Aug. 1 to complete the sale. Landmark status would prevent the school from being demolished for future development if the purchase agreement falls through.

Earlier this month, school board members voted against the proposal to grant landmark status to school. As long as the district owns the school, the district is liable for its maintenance, said superintendent Mike Oberhaus. The school is considered "surplus property," he said, and the buyer can do with the property what it deems fit.

Alexandra Elias, a former Quad-Citian now in San Diego, sought the landmark status. She was unable to attend Wednesday's meeting because of health reasons, her brother Harris Elias said.

Mr. Elias said economic development and historic preservation are not mutually exclusive, and the property meets multiple criteria of landmarks as defined by the commission. The school has a significant historical value, he said, and is identifiable as an established and familiar visual feature.

"It's simply a beautiful building in a beautiful place," he added.

Contacted in San Diego, Ms. Elias said that, while she was pleased the commission approved her request, the school district can appeal the decision to the city council. The future of the building is uncertain, she said.

"The city of Davenport has kept their historical schools intact, and we've lost a lot of significant battles," she said.

Several residents supported granting landmark status to the building.

"This property is the anchor of our neighborhood," said Thomas Taylor, of Rock Island. He said there was no sense in demolishing the building that can be easily repurposed.

"If anybody has any doubts about the (building's condition), walk around it," he said. "It does not need to be torn down."

Andrea Gaeta, of Rock Island, who also lives near the school, said the site provides a green space for the community. "It instills a great sense of pride in our neighborhood," she said, noting the school's unique architecture.

Preservation commission member Lendol Calder said granting landmark status to the building was an "open-and-shut case" for the commission.

"The application is sound," he said.


Local events heading

  Today is Friday, Aug. 1, the 213th day of 2014. There are 152 days left in the year.

1864 — 150 years ago: A mad dog was shot in Davenport after biting several other canines and snapping at several children. The police should abate this nuisance — there are about 500 dogs in this city that ought to be killed at once.
1889 — 125 years ago: Track laying operations on 2nd Avenue, stopped by the Moline-Rock Island company last spring for lack of rail, have been resumed.
1914 — 100 years ago: Bulletins allowed to come through the strong continental censorship of all war news indicated that Germany was advancing with a dash against both Russia and France.
1939 — 75 years ago: Emil J Klein, of Rock Island, was elected commander of Rock Island Post 200, American Legion.
1964 — 50 years ago: Members of the Davenport police department and their families are being invited to the department's family picnic to be held Aug. 27 at the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds.
1989 — 25 years ago: Beginning this fall, Black Hawk College will offer a continuing education course in horseback riding at the Wright Way Equestrian Center, Moline, located just east of the Deere Administration Center.

(More History)