As the seasons change, renovation work continues to one of Chester's oldest buildings.
It's been more than three months since St. Nicholas Brewing Company announced it had purchased the Landmark, with plans to renovate and reopen the 185-year-old building as a place for craft beers, food and entertainment.
"We are basically still tearing stuff out, doing demolition, finding where issues are and hopefully, we'll get to the point soon where we'll start putting things back together again," said Tom Welge, president of St. Nicholas Brewing Company.
An official name and logo for the business has not yet been released, but Welge said that could come this month.
"We've got a name, we're not releasing it yet," Welge said. "We're doing it in connection with our logo and I'm hoping to have that out for people later this month."
Welge noted renovations remain on schedule for a late summer/early fall opening next year. Workers are on site most days of the week, but it's not an everyday process.
"Unless we're very surprised, we're looking for a late summer/early fall opening," Welge said. "If we can open sooner, great, but we're trying to be realistic."
Local historian Shane Wagner recently completed research on the building's first owner, Thomas Mather, an early Illinois businessman, banker and politician.
According to Wagner, Mather - who moved to Kaskaskia from Connecticut in 1818 - built the lower stone portion of the Landmark in the early 1830s and retained possession of it until his death in 1853. The second and third floors weren't added until 1892 and became apartments known as the St. Louis Flats.
An early abolitionist, Mather proved instrumental in preventing Illinois from becoming a slave state and later owned the land that the current state capitol building sits on. After Mather's death, his widow sold the Landmark to Joseph Beare.
Welge was asked what is fun about a project such as the Landmark.
"To me, and the guys who are working on it, to be a part of the renovation of something that's so interesting and part of the community and where people will feel welcome," he said. "It's just such a historic place and it's fun to think about all the different people who were in that building as a business or a residence."
But renovating a historic building that has set vacant for eight years has some challenges, and in pictures shared on the Landmark's Facebook page (The Landmark Wakes Up) some relics of antiquity have resurfaced as well.
A Pabst Blue Ribbon Genuine Dry Ale bottle - believed to be from the 1940s - and a can of Landmark Premium Beer have been among the finds.
"It must have been a good Pabst account because we found one bottle from the late '70s and one from the early '40s from what I've been able to tell," Welge said.
Welge said he hopes exterior renovations, including the roof, windows and brickwork, will be completed by the end of the year.
"We're just trying to do it the smart way and do it in a way to preserve the building and the business for a long time," he said.
The Landmark's owners also couldn't resist getting into the "spirit" of things with Halloween and the building's allegedly haunted past. Ownership staged two spookily-dressed mannequins in front of two of the building's second-floor windows.
The sight made motorists driving along Water Street and some towboat pilots do a double-take.
"We had decorations rigged with solar lights to come on in the evening," Welge said. "We couldn't resist doing that."
Welge was also asked about another organization he is heavily involved with, Trips For Kids - River Ratz Cycling. He noted River Ratz Cycling had recently received two grants - a $500 grant from Constellation Energy and a $1,000 grant from the Canadian National Railway.
"They'll be used to help us fund our work with the C.O.P.S. program," said Welge, referring to the Chester Police Department's Challenging Ourselves and Promoting Safety program. "We give a free helmet to every 5th grader who participates."