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Geneva's Fargo House closer to registry
By Susan Sarkauskas | Daily Herald Staff

The city of Geneva is nominating the home at 316 Elizabeth Place for the National Register of Historic Places.

 

Rick West | Staff Photographer

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Published: 4/11/2008 12:06 AM

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A former Geneva mayor's house has moved a step closer to being listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Illinois Historic Sites Advisory Council unanimously agreed last month to recommend the Henry Bond Fargo house at 316 Elizabeth Place be listed.

St. Charles architect Michael Dixon, who specializes in historical preservation projects, made the case to the 12-member panel.

"It's the major step," he said of the approval, explaining that the National Park Service usually accepts what the state council recommends. "They respect the state … to do a scrutiny of the project."

The only thing the panel questioned was whether a third-floor space of the stone house had really been used as a ballroom, as listed, or was more likely used for doing things such as hanging laundry.

The application now awaits a decision by the national registry. That is expected to come within two months, Dixon said.

The home is owned by Gerard and Janet Keating. It is at Elizabeth and Route 31 at the town's southern gateway.

Henry Bond Fargo was mayor in 1903 and 1904 and then again from 1907 to 1910. He was a state representative from 1912 to 1914.

He was president of First National Bank of Geneva, built the Fargo Block on West State Street in 1915 and the Fargo Theatre Building at 315 W. State St. in 1924. He also built a half-mile harness racing track in the 1890s west of what is now Riverbank Laboratories on Route 31, the Fargo Theater and the Fargo Hotel in the late 1920s in Sycamore and the DeKalb Fargo Theater in 1929.

Dixon designed the Keatings' restoration of the house, including the reconstruction of a wrap-around entrance porch. The house and coach house were built in the Mission style, between 1898 and 1900. On the first floor, its limestone walls are 39 inches thick. It was built by locally renowned builders August and Oscar Wilson.

Dixon has been involved in many historical preservation projects in the area, starting with the William Beith House in St. Charles in the 1980s.