PEORIA — A temporary restraining order was granted Wednesday to delay demolition of the historic Rock Island County Courthouse.
Peoria County 10th Circuit Judge Jodi Hoos ruled Wednesday that the plaintiffs in a civil suit that was filed to stop the proposed demolition met the criteria required to issue the restraining order.
Six plaintiffs joined in a civil suit against Rock Island County and the Rock Island County Public Building Commission to stop demolition of the historic courthouse, built between 1895 an 1897.
Hoos is requiring the plaintiffs to pay a $25,000 bond within 72 hours. The county and the PBC had asked for a bond of $1 million.
"My ruling today is not whether the courthouse should be demolished — that's not the issue. The only issue in front of me today is whether plaintiffs have established a case for a temporary restraining order," Hoos said.
"I do agree with the plaintiffs with the case they cited. Once a building is destroyed, it's destroyed."
Landmarks Illinois, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Rock Island Preservation Society, the Moline Preservation Society, the Broadway Historic District Association and Frederick Shaw, one of the bondholders in the Justice Center Annex project, filed the suit Feb. 6 in Rock Island County.
Diane Oestreich, a member of the Rock Island Preservation Society, joined as an additional plaintiff in the case as a taxpayer.
The case was moved to the 10th Circuit in Peoria County to prevent conflict of interest.
Rock Island County State's Attorney John McGehee hired Bozeman, Neighbor, Patton & Noe, LLP to represent the county. McGehee was present at Wednesday's hearing.
After the ruling, McGehee said Hoos was being cautious.
"We are going to be looking at the legalities of how we respond. This is an issue that has to be decided very quickly," McGehee said.
Frank Butterfield, president of the Landmarks Illinois Springfield office, thanked Hoos for her decision.
"We are continuing to have discussions with developers, many of whom continue to express interest in the courthouse," he said.