Demolition deadline looms for Delavan's oldest building
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It may be too late to save the oldest building in Delavan, the former Israel Stowel Temperance House. The city has deemed it unsafe and has condemned the property. Dan Plutchak/staff.
DELAVAN -- How much is a piece of Wisconsin history worth, and what's lost if it disappears?
That's just one of the questions being raised by community members in Delavan, even as demolition looms for a downtown landmark.
The building, the former Israel Stowell Temperance House at 67 E. Walworth St., is the city's oldest surviving structure, according to historian Ginny Hall.
According to Butterfield's History of Walworth County, a historical reference book, the building dates back to 1839, shortly after Delavan was founded and 22 years before the start of the Civil War.
Despite being listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the building is in bad shape, and its problems go much deeper than the exterior's peeling brown paint.
Delavan Building Inspector Fred Walling can tick off a list of structural issues, from a bowed roof to rotting windowsills and doors.
Delavan Fire Chief Neill Flood, who issued the condemnation order, said the flammable nature of the deteriorating building is a concern.
The building's owner, Ed Chesko, used to run a bookstore in the building, but his business partner died 7 years ago, and Chesko is in poor health.
Despite seeking help from a variety of history and preservation groups, it looks unlikely this unique piece of Delavan can be saved.
Read the full story in the March 28, 2009 e-edition of Walworth County Sunday, HERE.