Hinsdale house may face teardown
When the teardowns.com sign went up on the front lawn of this 1890 Hinsdale home, interested buyers who were silent before suddenly started calling. | Kimberly Fornek—SunTimes Media
Updated: March 8, 2013 6:19AM
HINSDALE — Time might be running out for an historic Hinsdale home.
The owners of the house on the northwest corner of Washington and Walnut streets have a buyer, with the deal scheduled to close at the end of February.
The house was on and off the market for 2.5 years, attracting little or no interest, said owner Steven Embree. Then the “teardowns.com” sign went up on the front lawn and suddenly everybody was interested, Embree said.
“I find it incredibly ironic,” Embree said.
It’s not certain whether the buyers, who live in Hinsdale, will tear down the house, which was built in 1890.
Heman and Phebe Fox were the first owners. Heman and his brother Charles were early entrepreneurs in Hinsdale.
Though a plaque next to the front door reads, “1890, Hinsdale Historical Society,” the house, at 206 N. Washington St., is not protected by any historic preservation regulations.
“It’s on neither a local, nor a national registry,” said Hinsdale Director of Community Development Robert McGinnis.
The Queen Anne style house was rated “significant” in a 2005 architectural survey of north Hinsdale done for the Historic Preservation Commission, said Cindy Klima, Hinsdale Historical Society president.
Shannon Weinberger, past president of the historical society, said, “It breaks my heart to see the Teardowns.com sign in front of (the house),” but she realizes it was on the market “for some time.”
Between 2010 and last December, the house was listed with two different Realtors. It also was rented for a year, and the price lowered from $2.2 million to $1.9 million to $1.7 million.
The house has six bedrooms, six bathrooms, a finished basement, a finished attic and “a really nice coach house,” said Linda Feinstein, owner of ERA Team Feinstein, who tried to sell the home.
But, “People don’t want vintage,” Feinstein said. “They want newer.”
The second Realtor recommended painting the house. It cost $25,000, but the result was the same, said Brian Hickey, the owner of Teardowns.com.
Although the interior reportedly is in good condition, with updated plumbing and wiring, and a renovated kitchen, the floor plan is not what most homebuyers want.
The kitchen is small by today’s standards and does not connect with a great room. The master bedroom has no closet and no attached bathroom.
When a property is marketed for redevelopment, however, different buyers come out.
“Once (the owners) decided to go down the redevelopment, teardown . . . path, and lowered the price to $1,499,000, they got a contract within four days,” Hickey said.
The future owners talked about tearing it down, but are considering other options, too, Hickey said.
“I’m hearing they are contemplating reusing as much of the original materials as possible,” he said. “While the structure may not look the same, it could have many of the same bricks and woodwork in the new construction.”