Demolition of Pure Oil building topic of Geneva meeting

GENEVA – Geneva resident Dan Baker believes the historic Pure Oil building on West State Street adds to the city's charm.

"One of the reasons I moved to Geneva was because it's a charming town," Baker said. "If you start tearing down all of the charming and historical buildings, Geneva is just going to end up a generic suburb like all the rest."

He is concerned about plans to raze the former gas station at 502 W. State St. – built in the late 1930s – to make way for a new bank's drive-thru. The Geneva Historic Preservation Commission in February voted 5-1 against demolition of the building.

Property owner Joe Stanton is appealing the commission's decision to the Geneva City Council. Aldermen will review the request at the Committee of the Whole meeting at 7 p.m. Monday in the City Hall Council Chambers, 109 James St.

Stanton has said that it would be cost prohibitive to move the Pure Oil building. The gas station closed in 1995 after its gas tanks were removed. Stanton bought it five years ago and currently rents to The Pure Gardener, a gardening and gift store.

Baker said there is a groundswell of support to preserve the building. He is among 1,000 people who have signed an online petition to save the building at

The online petition states the building is an iconic "roadside America" structure and an integral and vital part of the historic Lincoln Highway, as well as a significant part of historic Geneva.

According to the petitioner's architect, it would cost more than $300,000 to renovate the building and make it handicapped accessible. The historic preservation staff recommends that demolition be avoided unless no economically viable adaptive reuse can be found.