Mill Race Inn Adaptive Reuse Study

Geneva, IL

The Mill Race Inn, built circa 1843 and expanded over the decades with a series of adhoc additions, was locally landmarked in 2018 by the City of Geneva. Once the additions were removed, the original Alexander Brother’s Blacksmith shop was revealed, an Early Settlement-era limestone structure. Typical of this era, the building is a utilitarian, vernacular structure of little to no architectural style. However, the small and humble character of this mid-19th century building provides a glimpse of the buildings that the first pioneers erected when establishing a new community.

Shodeen Homes, the new owner and developer presented plans to decommission the landmark status and move forward with total demolition and redevelopment. Prohibited by Geneva’s Preservation Ordinance, the owner was encouraged to explore rehabilitation options incorporating the structure into a larger development as an office, retail or community space. AltusWorks was engaged to prepare a detailed adaptive reuse feasibility study based on current conditions of the blacksmith shop, applicable building and zoning codes, and desired uses.

The design approach was to preserve and repair the historic building elements while incorporating new elements which are sympathetic to the existing building fabric. Improvements include bringing the existing building into a state of good repair; adding new programmed spaces, façade elements, and MEP systems (including site utilities); and providing equitable access to the property. The owner is currently negotiating with the community on the final development plans.

Blacksmith Shop, exterior.

Blacksmith Shop, interior 

Blacksmith Shop, interior.

Blacksmith Shop, interior.

Blacksmith Shop.

Blacksmith Shop, aerial.