Group pushing to save Lake Decatur pump house to hold public meeting

Group pushing to save Lake Decatur pump house to hold public meeting

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Pump House file

Workers evaluate the Lake Decatur pump house last month. The long-defunct structure is set for demolition by its owners, Tate & Lyle, who acquired it 30 years ago when they took over the A.E. Staley food products business. 

DECATUR — The group behind a campaign to restore the former Staley Pump House on Lake Decatur is holding a public meeting to spread the word about its plan. 

The century-old structure is now owned by Tate & Lyle, which is moving ahead with plans to demolish it. The company says the structure is dilapidated, and that it has spoken over the years with parties who were interested in buying the building but never followed through. 

But a new campaign, led by resident Bret Robertson, has emerged to try to save the structure. Tate & Lyle last month allowed Stephen J. Kelley, an architectural expert working with the group, to tour the pump house. Kelley said the structure is in much better shape than the current owners believe.

The building off U.S. 36 was constructed in 1919 and was used to deliver water to Staley plants. Its clubhouse hosted numerous social events over the years, and serves as the background of fond memories for many Decatur residents. 

The "'Save the Pump House" group is hosting a meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 9, in Room S210 of the Carroll Learning Center at Richland Community College. Leaders of the campaign will be present to share the latest on their effort and explain their seven-phase plan to preserve, rehabilitate and develop access to the pump house.

The group says the structure is eligible for National Historic Landmark Status, according to the Army Corps of Engineers. 

City leaders also toured the structure last month, and Mayor Julie Moore Wolfe said the company is making the right decision to tear it down: "You can tell at one point it was a really beautiful structure but it is just beyond repair."

The Herald & Review asked for a tour as well, but was not granted one. 

For more information, visit the Save The Pump House Facebook page

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A permit has been issued to raze the historic Staley Pump House, a century-old Lake Decatur structure that has housed numerous dances, weddings and parties before tumbling into disrepair. 

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