JOLIET – The city council agreed to remove landmark status from a 19th Century house after the owner pleaded his case for installing vinyl siding.
"This has been a big process dating back to April 2014," owner Michael Tannura told the council at its meeting on Tuesday.
Tannura rents out the house at 509 Plainfield Road that, according to a staff memo on the matter, was built sometime between 1871 and 1898 and "is one of the earliest remaining structures on 'Old Plank Road.'"
Tannura has been at odds with the Joliet Historic Preservation Commission since he tried to install vinyl siding after being cited by city inspectors for flaking exterior paint on the house.
He would not comment on the matter after the council vote.
But Tannura told the council that he was not told of the landmark status of the house when he bought it in 2008. He also said it was not economical to paint the wood on the house because of the small profit it yields as a rental property.
"I do not wish to maintain landmark status," he said.
He argued that the house does not meet several of the seven criteria for landmark status, saying most of the historical features had been removed or covered up by previous owners.
The council voted 7-1 to remove the landmark status.
Councilwoman Jan Quillman dissented and had tried to delay the vote, calling on Tannura and the commission to work out a compromise.
"One by one, we're losing our local landmarks," Quillman said. "Old Joliet is disappearing."
Quillman made a motion to table the vote, but the motion died when no other council members would second it.
Commission member Sharon Merwin made a short case for maintaining landmark status after Quillman called on her to explain the commission's position. But Mayor Bob O'Dekirk cut her off, noting a vote on the issue had already been called.
"You can look at this house and say the house does not look significant," Merwin said. "One of the movements in the preservation community is to recognize things that are not just the grand mansions."
The staff memo on the house describes it as a "two-story frame vernacular structure (meaning indicative of its era and not representative of a particular style)."
The house is one of 125 historic landmarks in the city. The city estimates that more than 2,000 homes in Joliet were built before 1900 and 11,000 before 1950.
"Therefore, only a small subset of older buildings in the city have their historic character protected through landmark designation," the staff memo states.