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Move it or lose it: Hollister homestead

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Ian Gronau | August 29, 2013

ROCKTON — The historic Hollister Homestead, built in 1854, sits prominently in downtown Rockton along the riverfront on the corner of Blackhawk Boulevard and River Street.

For longtime residents, the home is both an architectural treasure and a landmark that brings back memories of growing up in Rockton, but unless the home is moved to a different lot, or an ordinance is passed to protect the building, it soon will be a pile of rubble.

The current owner acquired the double lot property through foreclosure. In addition to building a home on the second lot, which is currently nearing completion, the owner plans to remove the Hollister Homestead and build another home on that lot as well.

The method of that removal remains to be determined, but the village board already has issued a demolition permit. Preferring to see the home moved rather than having to demolish it, the owner made a verbal agreement with the village board in January to delay the demolition for two years to give the community an opportunity to move it.

If you ask Rockton natives Rory Mulligan, Wendy Ackerson and sisters Shannon and Beth Ferguson, they'll tell you that they accept that challenge.

The Hollister Homestead is recognized both by the local Rockton Historical Society and the National Register of Historic Places as a historic site, but the plaque that it wears to signify this appears to be little else than decoration. It's for just this reason that the Ferguson sisters were so surprised to learn that a permit for its demolition had been issued.

“I noticed that some work was being done on the property, and I was curious about it, so I started looking into it,” Beth Ferguson said. “I just couldn't believe that the recognition as a historic site didn't mean anything and couldn't protect it.”

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