One of O’Fallon’s commercial properties built during the post-WWII construction boom is under consideration as a local historic site.
In 1947, Hank’s Service Station opened at 102 S. Vine St. as “one stop for full service for the owner of a car or truck”. This property is now the O’Fallon Tire Center.
The O’Fallon Historic Preservation Commission determined that the Hillesheim building, in the heart of the downtown district, “is a beautiful representation of a classic American gas station”.
For the growing number of vehicles in society, these stations helped move postwar America into the future, they said, and brought communities together.
“Over the years the building has been wonderfully maintained and continues to be a classic example of a bygone era that helped shape and move the Town of O’Fallon forward into the future. Therefore, the O’Fallon Historic Preservation Commission considers this building worthy of recognition as a historic monument, ”their report states.
After the commission held a public hearing on April 6, an order recognizing the historic significance of the property was approved on first reading at the O’Fallon City Council meeting on April 19 and will be submitted to the final approval on May 3.
The current owner, John Hillesheim, presented documents to the commission for review. He bought the property in 2003, having opened the O’Fallon Tire Center there in December 1990. Hometown Barbershop and L&D Wilson’s Siding and Roofing are also located there.
The once empty land had been used for events – such as carnivals – until Henry “Hank” Ben Wuebbels Jr. (1914-1987) innovated on September 19, 1946 for his new gas station. Since 1937 he had operated O’Fallon Gas & Oil Supply on the northwest corner of US 50 and Parkview, but it had grown too small for him. The new site allowed for an extension.
Wuebbels sold Zephyr brand gasoline and oil. He offered an emergency delivery of fuel oil from on-site storage tanks. It provided services such as car greasing, car washing, repair, tires and accessories.
In 1950, the station was known as O’Fallon Gas & Oil Supply. By 1960, it focused on the sale and maintenance of lawn and garden equipment, in addition to automotive work and fuel service.
Around 1979, ownership of the company was transferred to Walter “Wally” Kueker (1920-2005), who worked there from the beginning until the mid-1950s.
Kueker retained ownership when the company was purchased in 1986 by Ed Luttrell. They also specialized in the home delivery of gasoline, diesel fuel and heating oil. The five gas tanks at the site were removed in 1989 and the incorporated company dissolved in 1991.
The site has met the criteria of the Historic Preservation Commission:
- Its importance or value as part of the historical, cultural, artistic, social, ethnic, political or other heritage of the community, state or nation.
- Its embodiment of design elements, details, materials or craftsmanship that make it architecturally significant or innovative.
- Its representation of a sense of time and place unique to the city.
“They are one of the most common types of commercial buildings in America and are iconic of the 20th century. The historic stations that have survived are physical reminders of the transportation revolution and the influence of increased mobility on the landscape. They reflect automotive culture, pop culture, corporate standardization and an era of customer service that now seems quaint, ”the report says. (Background taken from National Park Service Preservation Brief No. 46, “The Preservation and Reuse of Historic Gas Stations,” by Chad Randl),
The O’Fallon Historic Preservation Commission includes President Andrea Fohne, Vice-President Robert Jordan, Secretary Shannon Mason and Members Steve Brown, Julie Spengler, Brian Keller, Mark Kampen and Susan Hertich.
The mayor recognizes the outgoing aldermen
At their last council meeting on April 19, Mayor Herb Roach recognized outgoing Aldermen Matthew Gilreath, Ray Holden and Mark Morton for their years of service. They did not seek re-election. They said it was an honor to serve the residents.
Gilreath will become the Township Clerk of O’Fallon, having applied for the post on April 6. He was appointed to council in 2016 and re-elected to Ward 3 in 2017.
Morton served one term and served as chairman of the finance and administration committee. He said he came to council when he had no children and now, four years later, has three children under the age of 4. He did not rule out returning to municipal participation in the years to come.
Holden, who was elected in 2013 to Ward 6, served as chair of the Parks and Environment committee and the Community Development committee. He commented that he was a “man of few words”. Holden did not respond to a press request about his reason for not running again.
Roach welcomes new aldermen
Roach said the three newly elected candidates joined the team with positive attitudes: Roy Carney in Ward 3, Stephanie Smallheer in Ward 4 and Jim Campbell in Ward 6. They will be sworn in on May 3.
“They all share the vision and hope that O’Fallon continues to grow and develop into a smart mansion and be a safe place to raise a family and develop a business,” he said.
He mentioned that over 80% of the city’s elected leadership team remains in place after being re-elected (Mayor, City Clerk Jerry Mouser and Treasurer David Hursey, plus four aldermen – Jerry Albrecht, Chris Monroe, Ross Rosenberg and Dan Witt). They will be sworn in at the May 3 meeting.
“This contributes to the continuity of our city’s plans. It also has a significant impact on new businesses when they envision community and political stability, ”he said.
TIF funds distributed
In another action, the council declared excess funds in the Special Tax Allocation Fund for its tax increase funding redevelopment project areas: TIF District 3 Central Park, TIF District 4 US 50 / Scott Troy Road and TIF District 5 Central City.
This is required by the Illinois Tax Increment Allocation Redevelopment Act when declaring a surplus (pass through) and is done annually.
The amount of $ 378,319.61 is sent to the St. Clair County Collector, who distributes it to the respective taxing districts as the affected districts of property taxes from real estate in the redevelopment project areas.
Learn more about TIF
The amount of $ 223,016.30 represents amounts transferred from TIF 3-Central Park of Menards, Commercial RE LLC (owned by Gander Mountain) and the redevelopment agreements of Central Park Retail.
The amount of $ 141,631.99 represents amounts transferred from US 50 / Scott Troy Road-Metroplex TIF 4. The remaining balance of $ 13,671.32 represents the transfer of these parcels to the TIF 5-Central City zone.
Due to the delay in receiving the final county property tax distribution, this annual resolution was not presented at the March 22 Finance Committee meeting.
It had to be put on the council’s agenda first so that the resolution could be approved, then the taxes paid to the county by April 30, the end of the fiscal year.
Roach introduced the O’Fallon-Shiloh Chamber of Commerce with a proclamation on their 75th anniversary. He highlighted their service and representation of the business community and said they have contributed to the city’s quality of life and overall economic stability.
He reappointed Dave Hopkins to the Police Pension Board for a two-year term expiring in 2023 and the Fire Pension Board for a three-year term expiring in 2024.
This story was originally published April 27, 2021 at 12:25 pm.