Petitioner, historic commission still caught up on restoring historic Antique Mall windows

Crown Point's three-story Old Town Square Antique Mall closed at the end of May. Since then, building owner Randy Sekerez has been working closely with the Crown Point Historic Preservation Commission seeking facade restoration approval for the three historic buildings at 101-107 W. Joliet St.

CROWN POINT — The debate isn’t over for the potential new look of downtown’s former three-story Old Town Square Antique Mall.

Petitioner Jim Keilman, of R. Keilman Associates, representing building owner Randy Sekerez, presented revised plans and renderings to the Historic Preservation Commission Monday, seeking façade restoration approval for the three historic buildings of the sprawling antique mall at 101-107 W. Joliet St.

“We are hoping to move forward,” Keilman said.

Renovations to the exterior of the building include restoring the brick, exterior masonry, windows, storefront glass, signs and cornice trim that tops the building. The store front would be replaced and a new fabric canopy would be installed. The railing around the stairwell will be taken out and replaced with period wrought iron to match new hardwood period-type architectural doors.

Extensive improvements will also need to be made to the interior, Keilman said.

Just as it did at the last meeting, the commission did not grant a full certificate of appropriateness based on the petitioner’s proposed installation of new windows.

Dark bronze anodized aluminum windows would be installed on the store fronts, Keilman said. The upper windows of the second and third floors of the buildings will be replaced with white extruded aluminum windows “in the same configuration as the existing” white-wooded windows.

“Rather than restoring original windows, the owner just thought it best for durability purposes and for low maintenance and insulating value of the new windows to keep pursuing the aluminum windows,” Keilman told the commission. “I know that was not an ideal solution, but that’s what we’re pursuing.”

The board was not satisfied with the ideas and said it would like to see the white-wooded windows that face Crown Point’s downtown kept on the façade.

“We are still stuck on these windows. Those iodized windows, they will look too modern,” Commission member Dan Rohaley said. “The character of the building will be compromised."

Brad Miller, director of the Northwest Field Office of Indiana Landmarks, a nonprofit that repurposes historic buildings, outlined his report and recommendations on the facade restoration project to the commission.

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He recommended denial of the proposed changes to the windows based on the Courthouse Square Historic District guidelines.

Miller said windows and doors define the architectural character and style of a historical building. When those are removed, the integrity of the building can be lost.

“Windows and doors are important and should be maintained if original, reflect original design intent for the building and reflect period styles," Miller told the commission and petitioner. The property retains many of its original windows, most of which are double hung windows that are characteristic of the architecture. These windows remain in good condition according to the guidelines." 

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Miller said the remaining original windows of the building exist in complete sets. All four windows in the center building, the three rounded arch windows on the second floor of the western building and all windows on the third floor of the east building remain.

“It is feasible to rehabilitate all original windows,” he said.

Keilman and Sekerez continued to debate with the commission and presented photos to back up their plans. The two mentioned the costs and concerns with the three buildings potentially having mix-matched windows.

“Part of the objective is for a uniform appearance across the face of the building,” Sekerez said, adding that some of the wood of the old windows are rotting. “We are trying to attract top-tier tenants. We feel like a modern window … in terms of having an old window versus a new window, we think the tenants are going to want the new window.

The commission decided to ultimately delay the approval on all the windows. It asked the petitioner to come back to the next meeting with samples and renderings of what the building would like with the original windows kept and restored.

Plans for the two-wooded doors of the old Cheshire Hall and hand railings will also be presented in the future.

“We have to do this right,” said Chairman Paul Bremer.

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Allie covers South Lake County municipal government, development and breaking news for The Times. She comes to the Region from Lebanon, Indiana. She is a proud Ball State University graduate.