County wants all of Lawrence Building

Repairs to courthouse roof needed

STERLING – Bricks are falling from the crumbling tower of the Lawrence Building in downtown Sterling, damaging the roof of the eastern branch courthouse below.

The Whiteside County Board, after a short executive session toward the end of its meeting Tuesday, unanimously voted to buy the tower – the second through fifth floors of the old building – known as the Lawrence Building condominium, for $30,000.

The building, not to be confused with the former Lawrence Bros. Manufacturing building near the river, is believed to have been built about 1910 as an office building by the same Lawrence family, according to the Sterling-Rock Falls Historical Society.

The county already owns the first floor of the building – the downtown Sterling courthouse at 101 E. Third St. – and Central Illinois Real Estate Holding LLC of Peoria owns the second through fifth floors of the building, County Administrator Joel Horn said.

The tower is vacant, he said.

The county wanted to gain control of the crumbling tower so it can make repairs to the courthouse roof, Horn said.

"We've been unable to get the current owner to repair them [the falling bricks]," he said. "It doesn't make sense to spend the money to fix the roof [of the courthouse] if bricks are going to continue to fall and damage it [the roof].

"We have no choice. We need to get control of the building."

The county has no plans for the extra space, except to repair the crumbling exterior and the damaged roof, Horn said.