Home and its history worth preserving

As impressive as the home at 505 S. County Line Road is today, it might have been even more stately when it was built on about 50 acres of land in 1901 for Lemuel Hinton Freer.

The house stood four stories tall and was surrounded by a coach house, stable, silo, gardener's cottage, multiple barns and world-famous kennels, according to a tour of the home created by Katharine Andrew, manager of the Hinsdale Historical Society, and available at hinsdale.stqry.app.

La Grange-based architect Joseph Corson Llewellyn designed the home, which was built by well-known Hinsdale contractor (and village board member) Adolph Frosscher.

Before the home was finished, Roger Sullivan, owner of Sawyer Biscuit Co. (which later became part of Keebler) purchased it. Its next owner was coal magnate Francis Stuyvesant Peabody, who bought it for his son, Stuyvesant "Jack" Peabody. The Peabodys hired David Adler to redesign and renovate the main floor.

While the Peabodys owned the home, the ballroom on the third floor was used as a boxing ring, according to the app, and in the 1920s, The Players of Hinsdale performed comedies and plays on the lawn.

The home was sold in 1934 to William and Florence Thompson, who rented out the house. Among the renters were the Raymonds, whose daughter married Bill Veeck, Fred Krehbiel's uncle, in the home in 1935.

During the Thompson's ownership, the top two floors were removed. Conflicting accounts as to the reason why exist, but the decision likely was financially motivated.

A decade later the home was sold again, this time to Vacia Duncan, who, with her husband, owned the old Spinning Wheel Restaurant. The couple passed the home on to their daughter, Wilma Duncan Castle, who ultimately sold it to Fred and Kay Krehbiel in 1974.

The Krehbiels had extensive work done on the house, led by Chicago architect Thomas Beeby. In addition to major renovations, two sun rooms and guest apartments were added. The family left the old bowling alley in the basement, where it remains to this day.

"(T)his residence is not merely one piece of architectural history," the historical society's preface to the tour states. "It's a mosaic of styles and eras put together seamlessly, blending the historic and Victorian with the new and modern."

Fred Krehbiel died in June 2021, and the property was sold in 2022 to Mihai Sava for $7.5 million, according to an article in The Real Deal.

The home was among the first 46 properties added to the village's Historically Significant Structures List earlier this year, which means it is eligible for incentives such as relaxed or waived zoning regulations, property tax rebates and matching grant funds. An explanation of available incentives is on the village's website at http://www.villageofhinsdale.org by clicking on the "Residents" tab and then "Historic preservation."

Coldwell Bankers' Dawn McKenna, listing agent for the 13,879-square-foot home boasting 8 bedrooms and 7.2 baths, gathered a panel of experts at the house Jan. 19 - months before it was selected by House Beautiful for its 2023 Whole Home renovation - to discuss saving the iconic property. More than 200 architects, landscapers, writers, contractors, interior designers and others attended.

At that time, the house needed some love, said Hinsdale village planner and panelist Bethany Salmon. And it's gotten just that.

"Before it was a hodge-podge maze," Salmon said. "Now you want to be able to walk through this maze and see what it brings you. Before you didn't want to walk through it."

She said Julie Laux's work to help transform the home (see accompanying story) is a great example of preservation.

"This is a member of our community going above and beyond what they had to do to help save the house and hopefully find a buyer that is going to purchase the house and all the land with it," Salmon said. "It's not just a good Hinsdale story. We get some national attention from it, which is wonderful."

A buyer of the home and all three lots, listed at $9.99 million, would own one of the largest properties and one of the grandest estates in Hinsdale, Salmon said.

"We'll give them bragging rights if they can do it," she said.

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean