Preservation of historic Delavan building could cost nearly $1 million
The former Israel Stowell Temperance House at 67 E. Walworth St., is the city's oldest surviving structure, but after years of neglect, it may be too far gone to save.
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DELAVAN — A conditions assessment report completed earlier this month on the former Israel Stowell Temperance House in downtown Delavan shows much work on the structure will be needed to restore it, but its new owner — the Delavan Historical Society — is ready to start planning its next steps in preserving the building.
Joe Salitros, Delavan’s city administrator, said the report’s estimate on a cost of repairs was $900,000 or more. Repairs will include structural work on almost everything, from the building’s foundation, walls and roof to its wiring.
The cost of the assessment, conducted by the Sheboygan firm of LJM Architects, Inc., was split by a grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the city of Delavan, but Salitros said the city doesn’t plan to take further action in restoring the building.
“There were no big surprises,” Patti Marsicano, president of the Delavan Historical Society, said of the assessment results. “We knew there were some structural issues to deal with and that this is not going to be done overnight.”
She said society members and representatives from state and national preservation groups would meet Nov. 13 to determine how to proceed next with the project.
A recent sale of books from the house netted over $2,500.
The books were being held in storage within the house by its previous owner, Ed Chesko, a former bookseller who died Oct. 23. Chesko deeded the house to the historical society last summer.
The building dates back to 1840, and once was a hotel and meeting place for a historic temperance society in the area.
The structure’s history, Marsicano said, makes its preservation worth the effort.
“This is the last temperance house in the state and the only piece of architecture representing that social movement,” she said. “Once it’s gone, there’s nothing left.”
Marsicano also announced that the Delavan Historical Society planned to move its center from its current location at 2375 E. Geneva St. on the grounds of the former Lake Lawn Resort’s airport to 635 E. Wisconsin Ave., in downtown Delavan next month. The new site will allow more space than its current, rather cramped quarters, Marsicano said.