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Architects take note of St. Charles
By Josh Stockinger | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 5/1/2008 12:08 AM

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Historic structures in downtown St. Charles have caught the eye of the American Institute of Architects, which recently bestowed one of its "150 Great Places in Illinois" awards upon the city.

Specifically, the honor recognized three local landmarks overlooking the Fox River: city hall, Hotel Baker and the Main Street bridge -- all of which are within a block of each other.

"The Fox River may physically divide the city, however, at the same time, the river brings us together," Public Works Director Mark Koenen said in announcing the award. "All three structures contribute to the heritage of the city and are noteworthy architectural treasures."

The award was given as part of an April 17 event sponsored by the AIA's Northeast Chapter at Hotel Baker's Waterfront Restaurant. The architects toured city hall with Koenen and Mayor Don DeWitte.

"These structures being recognized are lasting tributes to some of the founding families of our community who knew all along that St. Charles would become a great place to live," DeWitte said in a statement.

City hall, 2 E. Main St., was built in 1940 and came as a donation from local philanthropists Col. Edward J. Baker and the Norris family. The building, designed by R. Harold Zook and D. Coder Taylor, is perhaps best known for its 84-foot tower and its white marble façade.

Directly across the river is Hotel Baker, 100 W. Main St., also founded by Baker but in 1928. The 53-room hotel is of Spanish Romantic Revival architecture and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It also has been credited for earning St. Charles the Great American Main Street Award and national recognition in 2000.

The Main Street bridge, most recently reconstructed in 1997, spans the Fox River between city hall and the hotel. Downtown visitors are usually lured in by its fox sculptures, craftsmanship and view of the river.

Garden market: May 9 is your chance to raise money for Davis Elementary School by picking up some garden-related goods from local merchants and growers.

The Davis parent-teacher organization is having its annual garden marketplace fundraiser from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the school, 1125 S. Seventh St. Among the goodies up for sale will be annuals, perennials, crafts and gifts. Proceeds support Davis programs for students.

Anyone interested in attending, as a buyer or seller, should call Carolyn Shannon at (630) 443-0566.

V-days? The Salvation Army in St. Charles has scheduled two events this month for volunteers. One is to thank them; the other is to put them to work.

On Saturday, May 10, volunteers are needed between noon and 6 p.m. to collect, sort and pack food for the annual Letter Carrier Food Drive. Volunteers can work 2 hours or more at either the Joe K. Anderson Community Center, 1710 S. Seventh Ave., or the post office, 200 Oak St.

Then, on Thursday, May 15, the Salvation Army will have its annual Civic and Volunteers Awards dinner to honor the best efforts of 2007. The mayor will be guest speaker for the 6:30 p.m. event, which is open to the public and also at the Anderson community center.

Reservations aren't required for the food drive, but you should call (630) 377-2769 if you want to attend the awards dinner.