In the article where I say “ large glass rectangle box,” I do mean box, and not building.
The year was 1929; Herbert Hoover was the thirty-first president, the first color TV demo took place, and the front page of an edition of the Springfield News-Sun featured the opening of the new News-Sun Building.
It is now 2014, and things have changed a bit. The News-Sun building, located at 202 N.Limestone St., recently celebrated its eighty-fifth anniversary. It’s within walking distance of what many would consider Springfield’s most historic structures, including: The Heritage Center, A.B. Graham Memorial, Post Office, 4H monument, Springfield Federal Savings & Loan and the recently refurbished Bushnell Building, among others.
The building was sold in February to James Lagos. Springfield News-Sun’s remaining local workforce moved to a large glass rectangle box at 1 S. Limestone St. Lagos hasn’t made any comments on what the News-Sun building’s future might be. Many local residents are concerned after seeing the fate of several other local historic structures.
One hundred plus local residents attended a Springfield City Hall forum to discuss the building’s future. Primary focus quickly became opposition to any idea of destroying the historic structure.
“[I’m opposed to demolishing] it,” said Jack Hamilton, a Heritage Center museum volunteer. “It’s a beautiful building!”
A recent example might be Memorial Hall (1915-2010). This historic structure just over half of a mile from the News-Sun building, located at 300 W. Main St. While its condition was poor — due to years of neglect and a lack of maintenance — many local residents, for decades, tried to save it. It ultimately ate a wrecking ball with all the trimmings just before Thanksgiving in 2010. Costs to refurbish it far outweighed any hope of saving it. On the other hand, the News-Sun building is close to a turnkey, non-retail space and was only recently vacated.
Other historic buildings are close to being on the chopping block as well. These include the McAdams Building at 37 E. High St., what some refer to as the Rose City Pawn Building at 26 N. Fountain Ave., and sections of the The Crowell-Collier Building at 200 W. High St.
Those who want to be a News-Sun building historian for a day can go to the Heritage Center Archives at 117 S. Fountain Ave., third floor. One will find hundreds of archived News-Sun building documents and photos. These boxes of history cover the News-Sun building all the way back to the demolition of buildings which occupied the space prior to it.
With community action, a few of the more noteworthy ones might be saved like the Westcott house, for example. A social media campaign “Save Our News-Sun Building” (facebook.com/savenewssun) has been started. Over 3,000 likes and many comments below a 1950 photo of the News-Sun Building can be found.
“Personally, I would hate to see it torn down,” said Natalie Fritz of The Heritage Center. “Its eighty-fifth anniversary was just last weekend.”
While local residents and groups have given many emotionally-based reasons as to why the News-Sun should be saved, no one has yet to go on record to explain where the funds to do this will come. A private citizen owns this, not the city, county or state. Who will lease this building?
Converting it to other uses has also been mentioned. Converting a building of this size for a different use, such as retail space, has been mentioned as an option.
“Demolish [the News-Sun building],” Wittenberg senior Nikita Kelyvanov said, “and build a microbrewery with a few shops around it to attract foot traffic to downtown”.
The Landmarks Commission has been asked by the city commissioners to place moratorium on downtown demolitions while historic registries are reviewed. These have not been updated in almost three decades.