Owners utilize preservation incentives

Renovation will allow couple to enjoy modern amenities while saving historic home

Series: Hinsdale legacies | Story 14

Andrew O'Connor and Katie Lambert were thrilled to move from Chicago into an 1883 Gothic Revival home at 136 N. Washington St. in November 2021.

They were not as thrilled with the staircase leading to the second floor.

"When we moved in, we couldn't bring furniture upstairs. We slept on the first floor, on the mattress on the floor, for a few days. Then we decided we need to renovate," Katie said.

Eventually they were able to get a bed upstairs, but they knew a construction project was in their future.

"We wanted to live in the house and figure out exactly what we wanted to do," Andrew added.

They figured it out, and the renovation - including a new stairway to the second floor - is currently underway. The couple also is adding a mudroom, bathroom and breakfast room extension on the first floor, a second staircase in the back, a new bay window in the primary bedroom on the second floor and extending a first-floor bay window to the second floor, where it will be part of another of the four upstairs bedrooms.

The couple is taking advantage of historic preservation incentives offered by the village after having the home added to the Historically Significant Structures Property List in August. They said they discovered the program while researching the permit process on the village website.

"It just kind of checked the boxes for us and made sense," Andrew said. "The town didn't make the process too onerous for homeowners to go through."

A previous homeowner had completed research on the house, which they submitted as part of the application process. And they attended a couple of meetings of the Historic Preservation Commission to obtain approval.

"They were all very receptive and honestly happy people weren't knocking down the house," Andrew said.

Because the project involves exterior work, the couple will receive a $10,000 reimbursement grant from the village and a property tax rebate that could total about $5,200 or more over five years.

"Every little bit helps," Katie said. "Ten thousand dollars might help us fix this porch."

Village planner Bethany Salmon was a valuable resource to the couple.

"She was invaluable as we went through the application process," Katie said.

The expedited permitting process, which allowed them to start construction at the end of October, also was a bonus. They hope the project will be finished at the end of June, so they can return from the Downers Grove apartment they have been living in during construction.

"They might have to work on the outside while we live in the inside," Andrew said.

Some might think renovating an older home is challenging, but Andrew said the village has done its part to make it as easy as possible.

"They want people to take advantage of the program," he said.

And the two are looking forward to enjoying the final product.

"It's a home that's been in the community since the 1880s and it doesn't feel right getting rid of that," Andrew said. "We might be changing it, but hopefully for the better."

Author Bio

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean