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Teardown of 123-Year-Old Hinsdale Home Avoided With Board Vote

Two zoning code variances that were needed in order to update the house at 206 N. Washington St. were approved by the board of trustees Tuesday night.

206 N. Washington St., Hinsdale. (Photo by Joe O'Donnell)
206 N. Washington St., Hinsdale. (Photo by Joe O'Donnell)

The Village of Hinsdale Board of Trustees unanimously approved Tuesday night two zoning code variances that clear the way for the renovation of a 123-year-old home on Washington Street that might have otherwise been torn down.

Relief from village requirements related to floor-area ratio (FAR) and building coverage was needed in order for the new owners of the house at 206 N. Washington St., a Queen-Anne-style house built by a Civil War veteran in 1890, to update the home.

Village President Tom Cauley said keeping the “historically significant” home was cause enough to bend the village’s rules.

“We do have rules, but sometimes you have to look beyond the rules to make sure that you preserve what’s special in our community,” Cauley said.

Bob and Anna Livingston own the home. Bob Livingston was in attendance Tuesday night.

“It has been a lot of work but we’re very happy with the final product and we’re eager to get started with the project,” Livingston said.

The renovations 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. An attached garage will be added.

The board of trustees approval came after the village’s zoning board of appeals unanimously recommended the variances.

Read more about the renovations that were first introduced to trustees in September.

The home was first discussed by trustees last February when its sale to the Livingstons 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

Trustees were happy with the Livingstons’ decision to update.

“It would’ve been much easier to just ask for a demo permit and tear it down and start over,” trustee Bill Haarlow said. “There’s been a lot of effort on everyone’s part and that’s much appreciated.”

Trustee Bob Saigh said to Livingston, “It’s really quite a tribute. Thank you very much.”

The home has no type of historical designation, so the village had no authority over what course of action the owner ultimately chooses.

There are plenty of ways to keep up on Hinsdale-Clarendon Hills news:

brian hickey January 08, 2014 at 12:51 PM
Once again, hats off to the Livingston's for putting up their hard earned money to renovate....we all look forward to seeing the results. Hopefully, "everyone" will love it...if not, we'll probably hear some more on this one :) Thanks, Brian Hickey teardowns.com
Teri D. Springer January 09, 2014 at 04:17 PM
Three cheers to the Livingstons! I hope they take as much pleasure and pride in renovating this lovely home as I did renovating my 120+year old Greek Revival farm house.....
Hal January 14, 2014 at 11:44 PM
Good job, HInsdale council!!
brian hickey May 13, 2014 at 02:06 PM
I just drove by this home. Well, IMO, anyone that was prepared to tie themselves to the front porch (btw - it's gone) to prevent total redevelopment should take a look - today. Sure there are a few hundred of the original bricks and the exterior in some areas is the same...but, this will not be the same old historic home that was so important to save - far from it. Again, the owners should be praised for caving into the pressure of a few. This is a very expensive undertaking and I'm not so sure the "renovation" is nothing more than a trick. Quick....drive by today and let us know if this is historic preservation or just teardown and new construction in disguise? Thanks, Brian
brian hickey May 17, 2014 at 01:01 PM
Well, now this ought to create some discussion. I just got a call from the previous owner and he said..."drive by my old house it has come down". What? What? What? Yep, the home that was so important to the fabric of the community has been leveled. Why? I can only speculate. My guess is that the remaining structure was not sustainable and simply could not support the renovation. Here is my contention. IMO, this is not about historic preservation, this one is about rights and freedoms. I do not know the current owners. But, I have heard that their interest in renovation came only after pressure from a few to save this “old lady”. Again, not being privy to the numbers, I would guess that the current owner spent hundreds of thousands of dollars with architectural fees, permits, interest etc. What I want to know is who is going to reimburse the owners? The Village? Those individuals that caused the stir……I’ll bet not. IMHO, the next time an issue like this arises, and one will arise……..let those that put up the most push-back, put up their own money…..anyone remember the home that now sits empty at Katherine Legge…it just “had to be saved”. Six or so years later, it sits. No visitors, no one genuflecting at its door step. I can’t wait to hear the story on this one……..shame on those that cost these homeowners their hard earned money through pressure to “do the right thing”. I’ll bet the new house will be beautiful, and l’ll bet after it’s finished the world will go on and the Village will continue to move forward. If the Village wants a Historical District…create one, otherwise, this should be a lesson. The Constitution, the 14th Amendment I believe, addresses property rights for a reason…and to me this is a great example of a violation of those rights. I challenge all that protested the redevelopment of this property, including the Village, to come forward and make it right for these homeowners……….anyone? That’s what I thought. Thanks, Brian Hickey Teardowns.com

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