View Full Version : So, there's this house in the town I live in...
09-12-2007, 05:29 AM
There's this Prairie style home in my town on the Register of National Historic Places that my wife and I went and walked through last night. The place was commissioned and designed by two of Frank Lloyd Wright's students back in 1910 or so. It's not a complete wreck and it's in a fairly rough area, but I could easily sink $100K into it in order to bring it back to life. Here's the problem: some @$$#o!* from Northbrook bought the place (and 20 others in the town) without realizing it's significance and started tearing it up (he actually refererenced what he saw going on on HGTV as his basis for the destruction). A bunch of people in the neighborhood finally saw this going on and made a big stink about it with him begging this guy to stop what he was doing (i.e., putting in new ceramic tile over the original hardwood, stripping the remaining exposed hardwood of it's purposeful dark coloring to make it light a la Prairie style standards, painting over the original wood built ins, cutting down the designed landscaping because he thinks it's old and ugly, only four panes of the original art glass remain because he was careless and left a door open where people came in and swiped them, etc.). Sadly, the town doesn't have the codes in place yet to stop these things from happening, so technically he can do what he wants to it. I also found out from his agent, who told me way too much, that the place was vacant and the woman who owned it sold the entire property to him for $90K back in January. Now, since he found out its historic significance, he has it listed on the MLS for $325K after devaluing the house!
As I eluded to earlier, we're interested in the home (me moreso than my wife). We would have to sell our home to make it work, which isn't an issue, but to have our kids grow up in a nationally historic home which we could revive would be pretty awesome and inspiring, I think. So, all of that being said, does anyone think that offering him $120 (which I feel would be an absolute gift for what he has done to the place) and citing why he'll never received $325 for the house (mainly location) would make sense? I don't expect any replies to this, but if someone has an idea of what I should do with this limited information, feel free to reply. Thanks.
11-03-2007, 08:05 PM
any updates on what decision you made? I am curious.
11-06-2007, 05:43 PM
Got a lawyer?
What has happened?
He doesn't "sound" like the person that's going to let it go that easily regardless of what he's done to history. It would depend on a lot both regarding the current situation and your personal situation.
WOW. How much did he devalue the house, do you think? FLW...my Father would hate to know this...
11-06-2007, 05:55 PM
I don't get the whole preserving an old landmark stuff. It's just building materials put together to form a structure, who cares what the owner wants to do? Maybe the changes make the house more livable to the present owner. I can't believe how much money people spend to bring things back to their original state. I know there was some historic house in the Quad Cities, and there was a huge uproar that they were going to have it sided with something other than wood because of cost. I think enough stink was made and the more costlier option was taken. I don't get it.
I guess it's like the entire antique business, it's worth whatever someone is willing to pay. Kind of like a baseball being worth 500,000 dollare just because it was used in a certain game. It's still the same ball you could buy for ten bucks at a sporting goods store.
11-06-2007, 06:56 PM
A lot is gambling...but, how can't you get preservation in some form if possible to keep to the original state? You must go over the big pond and take a gander at some REAL history. Or, you just don't care. And, that is fine. We all certainly have our own opinions.
But, this is a landmark plus if you're in to what Frank LW is and stands for in his historic and current field!
Anyway, it would be great - Tofurky - if you could update some of us!
Interested minds would love to know how it works out.
11-06-2007, 10:07 PM
We all have our hobbies and passions Tom. I personally love restoring Chevy Camaros and have been doing so most of my adult life. But my wife is on board with my passion. My only suggestion is make sure that your wife is on board because you are asking her to give up her current house and move into a renovation.
Buy the movie Are We Done Yet, featuring Nia Long (man she is beautiful) and Ice Cube. Although a little far fetched it does show how a man's passion can extend his family and his pocket.
11-13-2007, 09:42 AM
I had completely forgotten about this.
We decided not to go with it for a number of reasons. I called the Cook County Assessor's office the following week to get the property identification number (PIN) because of the side lot that looked a bit suspicious. Come to find out that there is nothing recorded at the Recorder of Deeds office in regards to this house about a $90K transaction this year, let alone any transaction since July 2005 (where there remains a $250K mortgage out on it) and the side lot is considered separate and buildable. I wouldn't want to buy something like that and have to pay for the separate lot or have this guy sell it off to a builder who would try to squeeze another house in there right on top of mine. Then there is the issue of the neighborhood. I am okay with being an urban pioneer, so to speak, but when it comes to raising three small children under the age of four-years in an area that still has its crime issues, that's a whole different story. All-in-all, this whole thing stinks of shadiness and I just couldn't bring myself to fall into something like that no matter how appealing the home is.
As for the damage I described earlier, other people I know have been claiming that the art glass that was stolen from the house wasn't actually stolen, but removed by the "owner," who is not the same person on the deed. Along with that, all but one of the original sconces have mysteriously disappeared. I know that they can be refabricated, but that's just extra money. The Prairie Style chandelier in the dining room was extraordinary. It was four two by two wooden arms (I don't know what kind; my wife would know) hanging about four feet from the ceiling with stained glass panels in it. The "owner" decided he wanted to put a faux Tiffany chandelier in there, so he grabbed two of the arms and tried to rip it out of the ceiling. Two of the glass panels broke, one arm is cracked and the whole thing now sits on about a 105 degree angle. There is an original, grand built-in china hutch in the dining room, a butler's pantry going between the dining room and the kitchen and another built-in hutch in the kitchen. A lot of the doors and glass are missing and the wood is in some rough shape. The kitchen was completely gutted, except for the hutch, and tile was layed over the original hardwood. Then there is the issue of the stripped floors... You know, I could go on and on and on about all of this. Really, that is why it would be a minimum of $100K to bring back to life. I just kept picturing Tom Hanks and Shelley Long in "The Money Pit" and it freaked me out.
At the end of the day, we love our small home, great neighbors and safe area in the town. We have plenty of work that can be done to our existing domicile, so we decided that there was far too much risk in it as we continue to grow our family. If the lotto came along and we won, I would invest, but not where we are now. Thanks to everyone for asking.
11-13-2007, 10:26 AM
Sounds like a smart choice. What is that saying...A fool and his money are soon parted.
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