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Sheffield Village Hall placed on national register

SHEFFIELD  — The 100-year-old Sheffield Village Hall building has been named to the National Register of Historic Places, thanks to the work of an ad hoc committee of Sheffield area residents.

Committee member Mary Ann Cernovich said the process toward getting the designation began about five years ago when a group of citizens decided the historic building was worthy to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The two-story brick building, located at 239 S. Main St., was designed by well-known architect George Barber, a self-taught architect who was best known for customized, mail order homes. According to research, the Sheffield building was one of the few municipal buildings designed by Barber.

Built with bricks made by a Sheffield company, the city hall once housed the village jail with two cells, a courtroom served by a traveling judge, a telephone exchange site, and the fire and rescue unit departments, as well as served as the site for village board meetings. The building has not been used for several years other than for previous village board meetings and for storage.

In a press release issued Feb. 7 by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, spokesperson Christopher Wills said the Sheffield Village Hall was added to the National Register of Historic Places because of its architectural style and its connection to one of the most successful architects of the day, George Barber. The Illinois agency administers the national registry program in Illinois on behalf of the National Park Service.

Of 16 applications sent to the state, only four were accepted, including Sheffield’s and three from the Chicago area, Cernovich said.

Committee member Connie Hahne, a life-long resident of Sheffield, said the village is fortunate to have the historic village hall building. For the city hall to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places opens up opportunities for the village and gives the community a better chance for possible funding to help in the restoration of the building, she said.

As far as funding, the application process and any future renovation work, Cernovich said the Sheffield Pride organization paid to have the exterior windows painted last summer and also partially funded the hiring of a historic preservationist to complete the application for the committee. Other funding has come completely from private citizens, with no tax money used at all, she said.

The committee will continue to seek donations and grants from individuals and private preservation organizations and agencies to help with any future remodeling costs, Cernovich said. The designation on the National Register of Historic Places will help with any application for preservation grants, she added.

Mayor Bill Rosenow said a plaque has been ordered which will be placed in front of the building. However, the building will not be open for public inspection. Again, no village tax money has gone toward the project, nor is any village money budgeted for any future remodeling or restoration projects at the old village hall, since the extensive restoration of the building would be too costly for the village to undertake, he said.

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