Man charged with setting fire in historic Elgin Tower

A man tracked down through surveillance video has been charged with starting a fire in a garbage can at the Elgin Tower Building, causing about $5,000 in damage to the art deco high-rise that has marked the city's skyline since 1929.

Tommy McBurney, 58,  has been charged with one count of arson, a Class 2 felony and was being held in Kane County jail.  He was ordered held in lieu of $150,000 bail in a hearing in Kane County Circuit Court this morning, according to the Kane County state's attorney's office.

Someone passing by the building at 100 E. Chicago St. around 7:45 p.m. May 11 spotted flames in the lobby and called the Elgin Fire Department, according to a release from the city. Firefighters found the glass door to the building broken and fire in an open elevator car in the lobby.

The fire was brought under control within minutes, but there was smoke damage throughout the historic building, the city said.

Police said McBurney started the fire in a garbage can in the elevator car.

The Tower Building was built in 1929 to house the Home National Bank and Home National Savings and Trust.  The last major tenant was the Elgin National Watch Company, which closed in 1965. The tower was bought by William R. Stickling in 1997 and is now managed by the Stickling Charitable Foundation, which was been working on restoring it.

The building is one of just two art deco buildings in Elgin and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2002, according to the foundation.

McBurney was scheduled to appear again in court on June 11. | Twitter: @ChicagoBreaking


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