Urbana City Council voted down an ordinance Monday night to make Urbana’s Lincoln Hotel a historic landmark, a measure that would have secured the original 1923 structure built by local architect Joseph W. Royer.
Built in the Tudor-style, the downtown Urbana hotel has seen considerable ups and downs in its 85-year history along with a major addition constructed in a Bavarian-style aesthetic in the early 1980s by the Jumer’s hotel brand.
Normal, Ill.-based hotel developer Fred Rotermund of Global Hotel Management recently acquired the property and is currently shopping out the site to major hotel brands. According to Rotermund, the historic landmark designation hinders his ability to attract large, upscale hotel chains.
Many citizens came out — including members of the Urbana Preservation Commission — in support of the landmark designation like Urbana resident Carolyn Baxley.
“I think it would be a disservice to the community; I think it would be in opposition to the community values in Urbana if we jeopardize this property,” Baxley says. “This building has been the heart and soul of downtown Urbana. It has been for years”
Although Rotermund says he does not have plans to demolish the original Royer-designed wing, he admitted he could not speak for the owner so therefore he cannot make that commitment.
“Our intention is to reverse what Mr. Jumer did, and that is he tried to add his Bavarian style into the Royer design,” Rotermund says. “We want to reverse that and try to bring the Royer design in to the addition.”
Although the council voted down the measure to designate Lincoln Hotel as a historic landmark, they to want to see the Royer portion of the hotel remain intact.
Hopes of the council, including Alderman Dennis Roberts who voted alone for the landmark designation, are to have the best of both worlds: a downtown hotel that flourishes and keeps the historic portion in tact.
“The key piece here is preserving the 1923 Royer exterior,” Alderman Charlie Smyth says.
The council voted against the ordinance 4-1. Alderman Robert Lewis and Alderwoman Heather Stevenson were absent. The council passed a motion to remain in talks with Rotermund about the plans for the Royer portion’s exterior.
Currently the hotel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.