By Gordon Hopkins
Despite attempts by the current owner to save it, the Price Brother Hardware building at 325 D Street in Fairbury, one of the oldest buildings in Jefferson County, will be demolished. There are still hopes that the front facade can be saved.
The building has been vacant since 1997 and was condemned in May of 2021.
The Historical Preservation Committee met Monday, February 5, 2024, and voted to tear down the building on the grounds of hazardous conditions. The owner, David Lange, had filed an application for repair but after discussions with the city’s Code Enforcement Officer, Dan Lufkin, Lange pulled the application.
Lufkin told the committee, “I appreciate his desire and his passion and what he wanted to do but, ultimately, the structure in my opinion is deteriorated beyond fixing.
“Basement walls are caving in,” said Lufkin. “There’s holes in the floor, holes in the ceiling. I assume there’s some kind of hole in the roof because there’s fresh moisture on the floor and the entryway. There’s daylight through a lot of the walls. There’s not, from what I saw, there’s not a lot holding up that front facade. There’s rotten wood everywhere.”
The demolition will not happen right away, as Lufkin explained, “We need to get bids. It’s not going to be a quick and easy project. And I’m sure there’s very few that are going to want to tear it down. So, it’s going to be a piece by piece demolition.”
There is also concern about the impact the demolition could have on the adjoining building, Tooleys Bar. Lufkin said, “That’s why it’s going to be a piece by piece. I mean, they have to take the metal off the roof, cut every joist and just do a little bit at a time and take your time. And it’s not going to be cheap. It’s not going to be quick, but I think it does need come down sooner than later, in my opinion.”
While he thinks the rest of the building is a lost cause, Lufkin does believe it could be possible to save the facade, “The storefront, yeah, you know, by all means we can try and do that.”
There was also discussion about the possibility of the city taking ownership of the building. The City of Fairbury recently entered into an agreement with the Village of Endicott to form a Municipal Land Bank. Fairbury Mayor Spencer Brown told FJN, “Nothing is set in stone quite yet, but this is looking like the Price Hardware Building will be one of the first undertakings of the Landbank.”