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Shodeen Family Committed to Preserving 'Historical Integrity' of Mill Race Inn Property

The Shodeen family announced Tuesday they had bought the historic Mill Race Inn in Geneva. Closed for more than three years, the historic riverfront property could now see new life.

The new owner of the Mill Race Inn is not sure, yet, what will be done with the land at 4 E. State Street where the historic restaurant, which closed in 2011, occupied a 15,000-square-foot building on 1.3 acres. 

But the Shodeen family says it is committed to preserving the historical integrity of the property. 

On Tuesday, the Shodeen family announced it had bought the Mill Race Inn but did not disclose the sales price. The asking price was reduced several times, most recently to $890,000 in May 2013.

The Shodeen family said in a Tuesday press release that any potential development will include challenges resulting from flooding in recent years. 

“Regardless of the final use we are committed to preserving the historical integrity of the site by incorporating the blacksmith portion of the current building with its historical significance into the planning process,” Shodeen said. 

Though the Mill Race Inn is not part of Geneva’s historic district, a limestone structure on the site dating back to 1846 still stands, according to a Tuesday press release from Walsh Communications.   

Despite modifications over the years, some of its original walls remain according to a recent report on the property’s history developed by city staff members.  A carriage house was located on the land in 1892, and in 1933, Ann Forsyth opened The Mill Race Inn tearoom in the original building. 

The Mill Race Inn continued to operate as a restaurant under several owners undergoing many renovations until finally closing its doors in January 2011.

“Shodeen’s reputation and quality is evidenced throughout Geneva and has helped shape our community to become the envy of cities throughout the Midwest,” said Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns, Mayor of Geneva. “The prospect of working with them on the redevelopment of the Mill Race Inn is exciting on every level.” 

For over 50 years, Shodeen has demonstrated their commitment to preserving Geneva’s historical spots, and their link to the past:

  • Geneva on the Dam, located on the northwest bank of the river, was the former Howell & Co. foundry once known as the world’s largest manufacturer of sad irons.  
  • In 1993 The Herrington Inn & Spa opened its doors as the area’s top boutique hotel in what was a former dairy creamery dating back to 1874. 
  • Adjacent to The Herrington, the former Pump House was renovated in 1999 and serves as the hotel’s private event space.  

Each was restored using limestone or brick from the original foundation in the structures. 

Other significant Shodeen restoration projects throughout Geneva include Dodson Place retail district on Third Street, which incorporated the original Geneva Community Hospital and the building on First Street which serves as the firm’s main offices. 

Tell us in the comments section: What do you think should be done with the Mill Race Inn property? 

Lou B. March 27, 2014 at 12:06 PM
Shodeen shows a lot of class in how they develop their properties, and contribute to the charm of Geneva. Genevan's are lucky that the Shodeen group are the ones taking on this project.
Arthur Dietrich March 27, 2014 at 01:41 PM
Indeed. As soon as TIF was mentioned, the property was sold. Funny how that happens.
Lou B. March 27, 2014 at 05:27 PM
Makes perfect sense from a business perspective. Why pay retail? :). Long term, the taxing bodies, citizenry, and image of Geneva, are better off with a viable new project over there.
Colin C. March 28, 2014 at 08:51 AM
The Geneva Master Plan calls for developing our riverfront in such a way that it enhances our city and our access and connection with our river. An increase in our tax base would also be nice. All of Geneva's surveys of resident's wishes and resulting long range plans call for preserving our historic heritage as well. The Shodeen family has shown great respect for this in the past and I am sure that they will do so again. That whole area, from the SW corner of Bennett and State going west to the river and south as far a property is available, presents a wonderful opportunity for creative thinking. I am hopeful that they can match what they accomplished with the development of the Herrington.

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