The city of Rock Island, Ill., rescinded the local landmark designation of the century-old Villa de Chantal on Nov. 12, clearing the way for its demolition.
The Rock Island-Milan School District has proposed a new $9 million building on the National Register-listed villa's 14-acre site.
The Gothic revival Villa de Chantal was built in four portions, two of which were designed by George Stauduhar and completed by 1906: the chapel, dormitories, and classrooms. The Chaplain's Bungalow, also designed by Stauduhar, was completed in 1919. Edward Lerch built the remaining portion of classrooms in 1929.
In 2005 a fire destroyed part of the chapel's interior, and now the prospect of losing the building completely seems imminent.
"Yes, there was damage on the site, but not so much that it does not qualify as a historic site," says Linda Anderson of the local preservation commission, who lives in a historic district near the villa.
The state historic preservation office, which completed a review of the situation earlier this month, has the final word on its demolition.
"The historic complex retains enough character and integrity to remain listed on the National Register," says Anne Haaker, deputy state historic preservation officer. "We need to ensure, prior to our office allowing the demolition, that all alternatives are completely reviewed and rejected for sound reason."
The new two-story 62,068-square-foot school will serve 550 elementary students.
According to Anderson, the surrounding historic neighborhood is not opposed to the idea of the school, but neighbors "want to have some meaningful input into the design and sense of place for the school in order to retain the 'school in the woods' atmosphere."
- Leah Webster for Preservation Online