Council declares Urbana house historical landmark

By Crystal Kang

The Urbana City Council voted Monday to designate the property located at 508 W. Elm St. in Urbana as a historic landmark.

Four city council members voted in favor of, and two voted against preserving the Queen Anne Victorian-styled home. Ward 5 Alderman Dennis Roberts voted present with no conflict of interest.

Five alderpersons need to vote “yes” to pass the ordinance that would landmark this home.

Mayor Laurel Prussing consulted the city attorney and city clerk, who ruled that Roberts’ vote would side with the majority. Prussing made the decision to carry the motion. Unless the owner decides to take legal action, the home will remain a historic landmark.

Owner Julian Gorski said he may need to talk to an attorney about the surprising outcome of the votes.

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    “I come here through the whole process anticipating fair play,” Gorski said. “I thought what (Mayor Prussing) said at the end was a challenge.”

    Urbana resident Audrey Fisher, whose grandmother lived in the home, spoke to the council in hopes of emphasizing the historic significance of the building.

    “My grandmother Jeanne Hazard Mathews lived in this home,” Fisher said. “Her contribution is that she was the first woman (Urbana) city council member. She was someone who embodied the differences of others.”

    While Fisher’s grandparents lived in the Victorian-styled home, they split the building into smaller apartments and opened up space for returning soldiers during World War II.

    “They divided the second floor into apartments and divided half of the first floor,” Fisher said. “They constructed a stair case to make it feel like an apartment.”

    Urbana resident Brian Adams said he’s cautiously optimistic about the council’s decision. He added that there was vagueness in the way the decision was reached.

    “I won’t count my chickens before they hatch,” Adams said.