When I started researching this home, I didn’t intend on blogging about it anytime soon. I thought that I might some day see the interior and wanted to wait until that day. After my experience at the home a few weeks ago, I now doubt that day will ever come. My bad experience with a caretaker of the property also piqued my interest because, except for maybe an experience I had with a B&B owner in upstate
, it may be the most negative experience I have had with a Silsbee homeowner. After a little digging, I found that the recent history of the home was just as rich as the 100 years that preceded it. New York
I’ve mentioned elsewhere in this blog that on the eve of the World’s Columbian Exposition, Joseph Silsbee’s office was extremely busy. It was busy with work for the Exposition but it was also busy with work on homes and public buildings, seemingly evidence that the entire city was preparing to put on a huge show for the influx of guests that would be arriving.
In the past twenty years, the home had a tumultuous history. It was auctioned by the Hettler family in 1984. At the time, the home had retained many of its original features. It was sold to the highest bidder, the neighboring
. In early 1996, the school demolished the coach house that stood behind the home. It is likely that Silsbee designed that as well. The property became a galvanizing agent for local preservationists. A preservation official with the city was fired for allowing the demolition and a tide of support for a landmark designation of the street followed. The school, in turn, threatened to tear down the home and went as far as to file a permit for demolition. The local landmark designation was approved and demolition was not allowed. The process was taken to the courts but newspaper accounts taper off after that. The home still stands. This recent history can be seen as a snapshot of how preservation activism plays out in some communities. It is also evidence of just how vulnerable historic structures like this home actually are. Chicago City Day School