Belvidere Neighborhood Looking to Make History

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With homes dating back to 1850, residents on Belvidere's Hurlbut Avenue love the rich history of their neighborhood.

"The main reason we moved here was because of the older homes and that is what we are trying to preserve," resident Judy Lemaire said.

Belvidere preservation chairman Gary Simon is also in the fight to protect the neighborhood. Last month, Simon and residents helped convince the nearby Ida Public Library to withhold plans to extend a parking lot onto Hurlbut Avenue, a move that Simon says would have changed the neighborhood's complexion.

"They just want to see their neighborhood maintained. It would be a benefit to tourism. They could come in and view this street the way it was at the turn of the century," Simon said.

The decision to designate the 30 homes on Hurlbut between North State and Goodrich Street as a historic district is now in the hands of a Belvidere City Council vote next month, and while neighbors say the library is an asset, they hope a historic district would protect their homes from its expansion for years to come.

"As a historic district we don't have that opportunity. Our homes are built where they are built and that's the way it is," Lemaire said.

Lemaire and others are hopeful the City Council will approve the district and make their city street a unique landmark.

"It's an asset for Belvidere because it says Belvidere does care about its history and wants to protect its older homes," Lemaire said.

A protection of a neighborhood, and a protection of a home's history.

As for the library, no one would go on camera, but off camera they say things are moving forward. The library's renovations on its existing parking lot should be completed in the coming weeks.