108 N. Emma Street, West Frankfort
The West Frankfort City Council voted to accept a bid of $10,429 from Dr. Ted VanAcker for the purchase of the Old City Hall on July 13, 2004. Dr. VanAcker intends to renovate the building to become the Franklin County branch of his Southern Illinois Dermatology clinic. This successfully ended the long grassroots effort to save the building from demolition, as was previously planned by the city.
After Mayor Jack Woolard’s unexpected resignation in April 2004, the new mayor, Bob Ellis, was persuaded to support preservation of this National Register property. In an article in the Southern Illinoisan, Ellis noted that “the will of the people became very apparent and we will preserve it.” The previous mayor had favored the building’s demolition and replacement with a parking lot for area businesses.
Landmarks Illinois assisted members of the West Frankfort Civic Center Authority, which led the local campaign to save the building. With the WFCCA and local advocates, Landmarks Illinois urged city officials to consider the building’s re-use potential and ability to contribute to the city’s tax base as well as enhance the local business district. The Old City Hall is the only building in West Frankfort listed in the National Register of Historic Places.