The Rick's on the Square building is off the city's historical landmark list, but the neon Tyler sign will remain part of the program.

On Wednesday, the Tyler City Council approved owner Rick Eltife's request to remove the Tyler Historic Landmark status and plaque from the B.W. Rowland-Liebreich Building, which sits at the intersection of Broadway Avenue and Erwin Street on the corner of the T.B. Butler Fountain Plaza.

Eltife applied to have the city's Historic Preservation Board remove his designation last year after deciding not to go through the board's formal approval process required to make changes to the outside of the building.

The iconic "Tyler" neon sign hangs from the side of the building and has become a symbol of old Tyler. The sign also is featured on the Historic Preservation Board's landmark plaques and has its own historical designation, separate from the building. That status will not be affected.

The program is voluntary, but Eltife is the first person in the program's history to opt out.

"The city's landmark program has been a very successful, but in respect to private property rights, the owners have a choice to be involved or not," Mayor Martin Heines said at Wednesday's council meeting. "We respect the private property rights, but we really appreciate the homeowners in the Azalea District that enjoy that program. It really benefits the city from a historical perspective."

Currently, 109 buildings and signs are registered. Those on the registry have the ability to get a 50 percent break on city taxes.

Eltife bought his building in 1990, opened his restaurant in 1992 and is credited with helping revitalize downtown.

Renovations included replacing the exterior wood finish with mahogany and the windows with energy efficient glass.


Digital Content Manager

Faith Harper is an East Texas native working for her hometown newspaper. She specializes in digital content for the Tyler Morning Telegraph. In her spare time, she loves tacos, road trips and is currently learning to sail.

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