Naperville City Council gave Little Friends the go-ahead to demolish the Kroehler Mansion at their most recent meeting.
The dais voted 6-2 to overturn the decision of the Historic Preservation Commission and allow the nonprofit to demolish the more than 100-year-old building.
However, council also asked city staff to continue working with Little Friends and any interested developers to try to find ways around the mansion’s demolition.
City Could Contribute
That could include using some city funds, possibly from the Special Events and Cultural Amenities fund, to restore the building and help Little Friends get full market value for their property.
“We have presented data from a number of resources that show keeping the old house on the land prevents this from happening,” said Little Friends President and CEO Mike Briggs.
Little Friends’ original plan was to demolish all structures on its property and sell the land to facilitate a move to a new location in Warrenville.
But the Historic Preservation Commission said the Kroehler Mansion, once home to Naperville mayor and founder of Kroehler Manufacturing Company Peter Kroehler, is too historically significant.
“It’s a very significant piece of the Historic District,” said Councilman Paul Hinterlong. “To get rid of it would be the start to the end of the Historic District.”
Most in Favor of Right to Demolish
But the majority of speakers at the meeting argued Little Friends’ mission to help those with autism outweighs that significance, especially since Kroehler only lived in the building for about 18 months. That included Kroehler’s great-great-grandniece, who is also a former boardmember at Little Friends.
“This house is not his legacy,” said Mary Esser. “He easily could have built a house just like it but he chose to move on. Now, all of a sudden, the building is important. I’d venture to say that up until a year ago when Little Friends announced their plans, the vast majority of Naperville citizens did not know or care that Peter’s ex-wife’s home existed.”
Councilman John Krummen recused himself from the discussion as a boardmember at Xilin, which is potentially interested in acquiring the property.
Naperville News 17’s Casey Krajewski reports.
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