The owner of an old Hinsdale house that became the center of attention last winter when it was listed on and sold through Teardowns.com is apparently trying to keep much of the home intact as it is renovated.
Architect Michael Abraham, representing the owner of the house at 206 N. Washington St., presented to the Hinsdale Board of Trustees Tuesday night general plans for an updated home in order to gauge trustees’ interest in allowing needed zoning-code variances related to lot coverage and floor-area ratio (FAR).
The renovations proposed by Abraham would add new construction primarily to the north and west sides of the house while keeping many of the Queen-Anne-style features on the south and east sides.
“What we wanted to do was obviously preserve as much of the existing house as possible—in fact we’re preserving everything—and do compatible additions,” Abraham said.
The homeowner, Abraham said, wants to keep the original detached garage in place, which despite its large size can only adequately hold two cars, and add an attached two-car garage to the west side of the home facing the alley. Such an addition, however, would lead to the home exceeding lot-coverage and FAR maximums.
Abraham said much of the existing interior, including the number of rooms, would not be fundamentally changed. He said the owner wants to remove the white paint from the brick exterior—or if that's not possible, re-paint it—in order to restore the home's original color.
“We want to really kind of fray the edges of what’s new and what’s existing to make it one cohesive building when it’s done,” Abraham said.
The home was discussed by trustees in February when its sale was being facilitated through Clarendon Hills-based Teardowns.com, a website that connects sellers of property with redevelopment potential with interested buyers. That transaction triggered concern that the home would be demolished.READ: Teardowns.com Owner Defends Sale of 122-year-old Hinsdale House
On Tuesday, all six trustees said they would likely support lot-coverage and FAR variances in exchange for the preservation of the original home.
Trustee Laura LaPlaca said the changes planned are “reasonable,” and that approving variances to clear the way for them is in line with the board’s view that historical homes should be kept from being torn down whenever possible.
“We should take the opportunity to preserve homes like this,” she said.
Bob Saigh said, “I would very much like the proposals for the east side front of the building and for the south side. I certainly can live with what they propose for the north side and what faces the alley.”
If the variances are pursued, the approval process would begin in front of the Hinsdale Zoning Board Appeals (ZBA), Village President Tom Cauley said. The ZBA would then make a recommendation to the board of trustees.
According to Mary Sterling's book Hinsdale's Historic Homes, the Washington street home was built in 1890 by Herman Fox, a Civil War veteran who ran a store with his brother at the corner of Washington and Hinsdale Avenues.
The home has no type of historical designation, so the village has no authority over what course of action the owner ultimately chooses.
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