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Future uncertain for Harvard's historic William H. Coventry House property

Northwest Herald file photo
The Historic preservation commission approved a landmark proposal for the endangered William Coventry home in Harvard. The next step is to have the planning commission make a recommendation for the county board. There is some controversy though because the owner is trying to auction the property in April.
Northwest Herald file photo The Historic preservation commission approved a landmark proposal for the endangered William Coventry home in Harvard. The next step is to have the planning commission make a recommendation for the county board. There is some controversy though because the owner is trying to auction the property in April.

HARVARD – The McHenry County Historic Preservation Commission has deemed the William H. Coventry House and Barn as worthy of being landmarked, but the future of the property now lies with the county’s planning and development committee and a potential new owner, Jim McConnell said.

McConnell, chairman of the historic preservation commission, said the owner of the home, barn and outbuildings at 7704 Route 14, Harvard, has plans to auction the property in April and wanted the commission to postpone the decision, saying the home qualified to be a landmark.

If the property, built in 1855, does get designated a local historic landmark, it would limit the owner’s ability to demolish it, said Sean Foley, staff liaison for the McHenry County Historic Preservation Commission.

The owner would have to get a certificate of appropriateness from the county before the city of Harvard could give permission to demolish the landmarked home, Foley said.

“We hope nobody wants to demolish it, but right now it’s in the course of what is called demolition by neglect. Nobody’s taken care of that house,” McConnell said.

The home was placed on the Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois list in 2015.

The house and its outbuildings are part of the Motorola campus, which has sat vacant since 2003. Optima Ventures, the Miami-based company that owns the manufacturing plant and the 287 acres it sits on, has been sued by ComEd for more than $545,000 in unpaid electric bills. The property also has a tax lien against it after the owners, who could not be reached for comment, failed to pay $300,000 in property taxes.

Optima Ventures did not return multiple calls for comment.

The McHenry County Historical Society nominated the house to be a landmark, Foley said, and consent from the owner is not required for the nomination.

“We’re kind of between a rock and a hard place here. ... We don’t really know who the next owner is going to be,” McConnell said.

McConnell said if the property is landmarked, the owner would be responsible for maintaining it. It will be up to the planning and development committee, however, whether it recommends the McHenry County Board designate the home a landmark.

The next planning and development committee meeting will be at 8:30 a.m. March 22 at the Administration Building, 667 Ware Road, Woodstock.

If you go

WHAT: McHenry County Board Planning and Development Committee meeting

WHEN: 8:30 a.m. March 22

WHERE: Administration Building, 667 Ware Road, Woodstock

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