NIU pays to replace Oderkirk House roof

By Keith Hernandez

The Oderkirk House has a new roof due to a weekend project by NIU and the NIU Foundation.

The reroofing is the latest development in a disagreement between the university and the Annie Glidden Agrarian Society over who should fund immediate structural and interior repairs to avoid irreversible winter damage. The about $10,000 project was split between the university and foundation, said Bill Nicklas, vice president of Operations and Community Relations.

“Both parties were aware the roof was in bad shape and, as the conversation continues, we thought it would be prudent to weather-tight the roof,” Nicklas said. “It was the right thing to do and it was a decision that I made.”

Barry Schrader, Annie Glidden Agrarian Society co-founder, said he is happy the house was reroofed, but he expects more renovations from NIU to be made, including the completion of a rewiring job started in 2005 and the installation of a heating system.

The house was purchased by the foundation in 1977 and has been leased by NIU. The basis for the local historical society’s assertion that the university is obligated to pay for renovations is a lease provision that states the lessee “shall, at Lessee’s own expense, make all repairs and renewals necessary to keep said premises and improvements, both inside and outside, in as good condition as exists at the commencement of this lease … .”

The Annie Glidden Agrarian Society delivered a proposal to the university Sept. 16 outlining a use for the house, but the group did not include a funding plan university officials requested at an Aug. 14 meeting.

The society awaits an official response as to whether it can use the house for a proposed community garden and student organization resource center and who will finance bringing the building up to code for such uses.