O’Fallon Residents Advocate For Preservation of Krekel House

The historic home, located on North Main Street, was the first built in the city in the mid-1800s.

Several O’Fallon residents spoke up at , asking officials to take action on the renovation and preservation of the city’s oldest standing building.

According to O’Fallon’s Historical Society website, the Krekel House, home of O’Fallon’s first resident Nicholas Krekel, was built in 1856.

The home, located on North Main Street across from , was purchased by the city in 2007.

O'Fallon Patch previously reported, in December 2011, the City Council voted to so council members could discuss the project in more detail. The $54,500 allocated for the project was transferred to the (CLIP) Fund before the 2012 budget was approved in January.

During public comment at last week's meeting, residents advocated for the preservation of the Krekel House.

Wendy Prakop, who served on the 2008 comprehensive plan committee, said she was there to express her concern for the lack of interest and support of the city council when it comes to the home’s preservation.

She said the very first section of the comprehensive plan discusses historical preservation, specifically with goals to restore the Krekel House close to its original form. Prakop added the historic project is a work in progress.

“I question how long this progression will take, especially when the funds that were budgeted for the Krekel home were taken away and are now being used for landscaping and signage,” she said. “ Does landscaping and signage  give a sense of grounding that show us who we have been and a foundation for who we will become?”

Pat Swinger, from the O’Fallon Historical Society came forward with a dozen supporters at her side.

“The last time this project was mentioned in a meeting, funds that had been shifted toward Krekel House were shifted back to the landscaping project—a very good project by the way,” Swinger said.

Swinger addressed the concern that the plans required more discussion.

“Every project starts out with just a vague idea and when people put their heads together, a good viable plan emerges,” Swinger said.

She added that in 2008, the comprehensive plan committee worked with a historic architect, and discussed every possible use for this property in order to take advantage of her knowledge and expertise.

Swinger said she realizes there was some excess in plan, and finalizing the plan will entail some compromises, to make cost effective decisions and it will likely require more than one budget cycle to get the job done.

“Ignoring the immediate needs and stabilization that could have been done with the $54,000 that was put in the budget and then taken out, will only make the future costs even higher,” Swinger said.

She said the decision was made to purchase the Krekel property and the council has a responsibility to protect it.

“We recently on Church St. that was bad enough, but how tragic would it be if the Krekel House, the building that undeniably plays the most important role in preserving and telling O’Fallon’s history, were lost to fire, or worse yet, sheer neglect.”

Swinger told the council she understands the recession has brought budgetary constraints, but urged the council to finish what’s been started before launching any new costly projects.

Cheryl Hibbeler, an O’Fallon resident who was appointed to the Missouri Advisory Council on Historic Preservation also spoke at the meeting.

She said O’Fallon could take advantage of program called Certified Local Governments and the possibility of federal grants and grants through state historic preservation to help with the renovation costs.

“Besides O’Fallon tax dollars, there may be some avenues. There also may be the possibility of some fundraising and some pledges,” she said.

Hibbeler also said she knows of at least one descendant of Nicholas Krekel, who is interested in making a donation.

She said there are ways to ensure cost effectiveness and other avenues of raising some revenue to get the job done.

Ward 4 Councilman Jeff Schwentker said the city is working on a five-year plan addressing several issues, including the Krekel House, which will be discussed at the next strategic planning meeting on June 2.

“Nothing has fallen on deaf ears, we heard what you had to say,” he said.  

Cheryl Hibbeler June 01, 2012 at 01:40 PM
Thank you for covering this meeting so well. It is so important that people find out about this topic. So many do not know that the work on the Krekel house just keeps getting postponed and postponed. We all know what happens to any building left empty and unprotected for any considerable length of time. We're not asking for hundreds of houses to be preserved. We're not even asking for the extremely Cadillac version of presvervation that was shown in the outside consultant's report. This is the ONLY first house in O'Fallon built by the founder of the city. We need to take care of this particular house and with a moderate amount of expenditures. It can be done if the council will get behind it.
Jim Frain June 01, 2012 at 01:52 PM
Thanks to the O'Fallon Patch for bringing out the concerns that many O'Fallon residents have for the first and oldest structure in O'Fallon, Krekel House. I am confident that our city council will do the right thing and work with interested residents to come up with a workable plan to maintain this important home. This home has represented O'Fallon since 1856 and I am certain that our city council will honor our past city founders by preserving this special structure. Certainly, our council members want to be known as the council that "saved the Krekel House".
Brian Feldt (Editor) June 01, 2012 at 03:34 PM
Cheryl and Jim, thanks for the comments! Sounds like you two are well invested in the Krekel House. I'd like to invite you to blog about the house on Patch. You're already half way through the process since you are registered users. All that's left to do is write. To do that, just click here: http://ofallon.patch.com/blog_posts/new Thanks again!
Pat Swinger June 01, 2012 at 06:40 PM
One of the things that I find so interesting about the Krekel House is that it started out as a log structure and then twice underwent expansion and updating. It's a story that is played out time and time again as the first settlers cleared the land and used the logs to build the house. Then as time went on and they became more prosperous, they expanded the dwellings and made them nicer. I love the fact that, in that respect at least, Krekel House can tell its own story and I hope that whatever is done to preserve the house retains that tangible evidence.
Jordan Lanham June 01, 2012 at 07:55 PM
Thanks for sharing more of the Krekel House story Pat!
Jim Frain June 01, 2012 at 08:26 PM
There is very little about O'Fallon History that Pat Swinger does not know. I would hope that Pat could contribute as a blogger on O'Fallon History...on the Krekel House and so much more. What about it Pat? O'Fallon has a wonderful history and you could share it with the O'Fallon Patch Readers along with my Facebook Friends.
Jordan Lanham June 01, 2012 at 08:32 PM
That's a great idea Jim! Pat, if you're interested, all you have to do is click here: http://ofallon.patch.com/blog_posts/new!
Pat Swinger June 06, 2012 at 10:57 PM
Jordan has graciously asked me to do this on several occasions. I have to say, after 6-8 hours of writing everyday, I'm hesitant to commit. However, if you promise not to expect lengthy missives that send me to the files at the Log Cabin to do research, I'm on board. In fact, I just posted a little story for you a few minutes ago. If anyone has a question or something they want to hear about, it will save me from having to be creative! Thanks to everyone who's interested in O'Fallon's history and to O'Fallon Patch for helping out, Pat
Jim Frain June 06, 2012 at 11:07 PM
I'm pleased that you will be sharing your knowledge of O'Fallon History with us Pat. It will be great to read and learn more about our O'Fallon Past!
Mary Mackey June 06, 2012 at 11:14 PM
I am a direct descendant of Arnold and Nicholas Krekel. My Grandmother Mary Westhoff lived in the Krekel house when my brother and sisters were growing up. I remember visiting my Great Grandmother there,what a fun house to explore as a kid. I liked the suggestion that one of the speakers made about fund raisers and getting people to donate their time in refurbishing this historic home. I have family members who are interested in helping.


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