Arlington landmark faces threat of wrecking ball

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by MONIKA DIAZ

WFAA

Posted on October 24, 2012 at 10:52 PM

Updated Thursday, Oct 25 at 5:26 PM

Eastern Star Home

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ARLINGTON — Michelle Ruegsegger works at her parents' restaurant on East Division Street in Arlington.  Bodacious Bar-B-Q opened 21 years ago, and — through the years — Ruegsegger has seen history across the avenue disappear.

"It's sad," she said. "I do remember it as a kid.  We would go there. I think it was their summer sale. It was fun."

She's talking about visits to the Eastern Star Home. The complex, built in 1924, housed the wives of aging Masons, but most of the buildings on the property are gone. 

Only one is still standing.

"What's there now, I think, could be turned into something ... it would be cool," Ruegsegger said.

Ron Reber, the chairman of Arlington's Landmark Preservation Commission, is fighting to save the Home.  Before the Rangers Ballpark and Cowboys Stadium, the home was the centerpiece of the city.

"Many of our Council members and our landmark commissioners grew up looking at this building," Reber said.  "At Christmas, it would be decorated, and families would come by to take a look at it."

The property is on the market for $11.5 million. Some investors are interested, but they want to have the option to tear down the Home.

"You got 28.5 acres, half a mile from a major stadium," Reber said. "You've got prime real estate, and it's a shame this building is located where it is."

The City Council has delayed granting a demolition permit for Eastern Star Home several times. They delayed it once again, but Reber and the Commission are now facing a deadline. 

They need to find a buyer who wants to transform the property into a retail/residential complex, but who also would pledge to preserve this piece of Arlington's architectural history.

"If we can't find a viable option for the City Council by November 6th, then they are going to be forced to make a decision," Reber said.  "And it won't be something we like."

E-mail mdiaz@wfaa.com

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