Potential Teardown of 122-year-old Hinsdale House Gets Trustees' Attention

The village is encouraging the buyers of 206 N. Washington St. to keep the exterior of the historic home intact as they rehab the interior.

The potential demolition of a 122-year-old Hinsdale home drew comments at Tuesday night's Village of Hinsdale Board of Trustees meeting from village officials who'd rather not see it go.

Village manager Dave Cook said village staff has been encouraging the future owners of 206 N. Washington St., through conversations with their architects, to reconsider tearing down the home built in 1890 after hearing a teardown is being considered.

“We’re making progress, but they’re more concerned with the interior of the house than the exterior,” Cook said, noting that the interior is not conducive to “a big modern family.”

The current owners of the home have reached an agreement with the new buyers, The Doings reported, and the deal is expected to be final by the end of the month.

The house was on and off the market for two-and-a-half years, current owner Steven Embree told the paper.

Cook said he’s been told the buyers might consider a “deconstruct and reconstruct” project that would seek to reuse as much original material from the home's exterior as possible. Brian Hickey of Teardowns.com, which listed the home, told The Doings the same thing.

Read the full Doings story here.

Hinsdale building commissioner Rob McGinnis said the house does not have any local or national historic designation, so the village has no power to protect the home.

"Unfortunately, it looks like a goner," McGinnis said.

According to Mary Sterling's book Hinsdale's Historic Homes, the Washington street home was built in 1890 by Herman and Phebe Fox. Herman was a Civil War veteran who ran a store with his brother at the corner of Washington and Hinsdale Avenues.

The property is an example of Hinsdale’s “spectacular historic architecture,” trustee Bob Saigh said Tuesday.

“I honestly had the feeling that in this case, with 206 North Washington, the last owners may indeed not have known all the history of that home,” Saigh said, “and if that’s the case that’s really a shame.”

Village President Tom Cauley said that even though the village can't halt demolition, staff should continue to encourage the homeowners to preserve the house as much as possible.

“It would really be a shame if that house came down,” Cauley said. 

Here's what Hinsdale-Clarendon Hills Patch's Facebook fans are saying:

  • Jane: Love this house! Don't tear it down!
  • Emily: This is so sad!
  • Jaclyn: What?! Did this house used to be purple!
  • Bonnie: i wish i could buy it !
  • Gregg: No, No, No!
  • Vicki: GRRR! Why didnt the village throw a historical status on this! Can't believe so much of Hinsdale's history is being demolished!!
  • Jane: So sad!
  • teardowns.com: The last time we saw this kind of push-back was when the Zook house was moved to KLM - remember that? Having lived in Hinsdale all my life and having had actually grown up in a similar home on S. Washington - I'm wondering why all the sadness? The seller is happy, the buyer is happy - why are you sad?

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Teri D. Springer February 09, 2013 at 06:56 PM
Well, I guess I can't really blame you. If the demand wasn't there you wouldn't have any business. As for the house you grew up in....the place I am renovating right now has essentially been completely redone. It's been interesting since it's all knob and tube wiring and there just is no way to fish new wires through lathe walls. We have put in an entirely new HVAC including running a big duct up through two floors utilizing two well-placed closets. The duct goes into the attic and the rooms upstairs are ducted through their ceilings. Pretty much the only things we haven't replaced is the original structure itself, the plaster in the living room and the oak floors in the living room, dining room and an odd little room at the base of the main stairs. Had to completely strip the staircase but it was worth it...it's beautiful. The woman who lived in the house in the 60's and 70's stopped in (she must be in her late 80's) stopped in one day and was amazed to see the floors...she lived there 20+ years and never knew there were hardwood floors. And yes, we had asbestos...had an environmental company come in and remove most of it. The asbestos flooring and "walls" (in what used to be a garage) have been sealed. Yes, it's expensive but it's been worth it to me. If I had the funds I would buy that house on Washington. Guess I need to buy some lottery tickets. As for living for now, now is built on yesterday.
L. Forrester February 10, 2013 at 04:46 AM
Well said.
L. Forrester February 10, 2013 at 04:50 AM
Somehow my "well said" comment ended up on the wrong comment. Teri, I applaud your efforts to restore your home. Unfortunately, there are fewer and fewer like-minded people today.
L. Forrester February 10, 2013 at 04:51 AM
Painting it totally ruined it.
Penny and John Bohnen February 11, 2013 at 06:12 PM
This is a shame. As a life long resident of Hinsdale, growing up on the north side, I walked by this beautiful home countless times and always admired its countenance and stature. As a Realtor, I showed this home and couldn’t help but marvel at the quality of construction and the history that it exuded. Some of us in the real estate profession have a background and expertise that manifests itself in being able to successfully market vintage homes. I wish I had had an opportunity to represent this home. Perhaps the outcome might have been different. Having grown up in a vintage home and then buying and living in a historic vintage home for over forty years, I can empathize with those who have some intrepidations about taking on a project of this nature, but I also can assure that it is possible, fascinating and very rewarding. Unfortunately, the stars did not line up correctly for this treasure to be preserved. Perhaps the “kiss of death” was the bath of pale yellow paint that was splashed all over the beautiful brick façade. The last Realtor, who suggested this, ought to be tarred and feathered because in doing this, she struck the death knoll for a wonderful home and a special piece of Hinsdale’s history. Too bad. Once gone, gone forever. John Bohnen Member, Hinsdale Preservation Commission Managing Broker/Owner, County Line Properties


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