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House Fire
Topic Started: Jun 30 2018, 04:43 AM (208 Views)
George K
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Finally
A while ago, in the "Painted Ladies" thread, I posted a picture of a house that I've passed that was scheduled for demolition.

http://s10.zetaboards.com/The_New_Coffee_Room/single/?p=11068208&t=9011708

I was able to resurrect the pics:

Posted Image

Posted Image

And here's a higher quality photo:

Posted Image

Well, on Thursday evening, this happened:

Posted Image


Posted Image

Posted Image

Quote:
 
The last historic home left standing burned to the ground during the early morning hours of June 28, ending for good any speculation about whether it or any part of it would be saved for posterity.

Firefighters were called at about 1:50 a.m., according to Fire Chief Gordon Nord. By the time engines arrived, the house was completely engulfed in flames, he said.

Because the house has been vacant for more than a year and the protective metal shutters over the house's lower-floor windows appeared not to have been breached, firefighters concentrated on putting out the blaze from outside.

"There was no apparent sign that anyone got in, and even so, at that point, we deemed it as a defensive fire from the get-go," Nord said.

Firefighters made sure to prevent the fire from spreading to nearby trees in the heavily forested area and protected the inhabited house that sits just south of there.

Nord said the fire was being investigated by the Illinois State Fire Marshal and Cook County Sheriff's Police. While no cause has been announced, officials have not ruled out that it may have been set intentionally.

"We find it suspicious, being it was a vacant house on fire," Nord said.

The house still had live electrical service, Nord said, but the natural gas line had been disconnected.

Once investigators wrap up their work, said Nord, he will ask the Cook County Land Bank, which owns the home, to knock down the hazardous stone walls that remain standing.

"My main concern is the safety of citizens that will pass this house," Nord said.

Several agencies responded to the blaze, including firefighters from surrounding suburbs.

Kathie Schaefer, whose home is about a half block south, said that about an hour before learning of the fire she had heard loud bangs, like doors slamming. She went outside to check on her garage to make sure it was secure, but she didn't notice anything out of the ordinary at the time.

A car she heard speeding southbound on her street around that same time also did not seem particularly suspicious, said Schaefer, since the remaining handful of abandoned homes in the neighborhood were attractive nuisances.

The house at had attracted vandals in the past. Paint had been thrown around the interior by someone who managed to get inside at one point, and the house had also been tagged with graffiti and had rocks thrown through its windows.

Another house still yet to be demolished, a block to the east, is fenced off, but the overhead garage door appears to have been forced open, allowing easy entry.

"We get a lot of cars and activity back here at night," Schaefer said.

About an hour after "door slams," Schaefer said she heard something that sounded like glass smashing. It was the sound of windows blowing out of the house as it went up in flames.
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- Mik, 6/14/08


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Mikhailoh
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If you want trouble, find yourself a redhead
Torched. What a shame.
Once in his life, every man is entitled to fall madly in love with a gorgeous redhead - Lucille Ball
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Catseye3
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Fulla-Carp
Very sad. You hate to see the remains.

Will you post whatever is discovered as to the cause of the fire, please?
"If you can't be a good example, then you'll just have to serve as a horrible warning." -- Catherine Aird
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George K
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Finally
Catseye3
Jun 30 2018, 04:52 AM
Very sad. You hate to see the remains.

Well, it was slated for demolition anyway, and the county owned the property. So, there's really no great loss, other than the historical value. And that discussion became moot.
Quote:
 
Will you post whatever is discovered as to the cause of the fire, please?
Sure.
A guide to GKSR: Click

"Now look here, you Baltic gas passer... "
- Mik, 6/14/08


Nothing is as effective as homeopathy.

I'd rather listen to an hour of Abba than an hour of The Beatles.
- Klaus, 4/29/18
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Catseye3
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Fulla-Carp
George K
Jun 30 2018, 05:17 AM


Quote:
 
Well, it was slated for demolition anyway, and the county owned the property. So, there's really no great loss, other than the historical value.


I know, but still . . . it was such a lovely thing. :-/
"If you can't be a good example, then you'll just have to serve as a horrible warning." -- Catherine Aird
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Copper
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Shortstop
George K
Jun 30 2018, 05:17 AM
Catseye3
Jun 30 2018, 04:52 AM
Very sad. You hate to see the remains.

Well, it was slated for demolition anyway, and the county owned the property. So, there's really no great loss, other than the historical value. And that discussion became moot.
Quote:
 
Will you post whatever is discovered as to the cause of the fire, please?
Sure.

My bet? School is out, kids need a place to go.

Fire is always a popular toy.

The Confederate soldier was peculiar in that he was ever ready to fight, but never ready to submit to the routine duty and discipline of the camp or the march. The soldiers were determined to be soldiers after their own notions, and do their duty, for the love of it, as they thought best. Carlton McCarthy
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Friday
Senior Carp
It was such a pretty house.
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George K
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Finally
Friday
Jul 1 2018, 12:42 PM
It was such a pretty house.
In its day, it might have been.

However, since I've been walking through that area for the last couple of years, it's really gone to seed (as you can see from my photos).

Also, pretty small, about 2100 square feet, and 3 bedrooms.
A guide to GKSR: Click

"Now look here, you Baltic gas passer... "
- Mik, 6/14/08


Nothing is as effective as homeopathy.

I'd rather listen to an hour of Abba than an hour of The Beatles.
- Klaus, 4/29/18
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George K
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Finally
I walked by this morning:

Posted Image
A guide to GKSR: Click

"Now look here, you Baltic gas passer... "
- Mik, 6/14/08


Nothing is as effective as homeopathy.

I'd rather listen to an hour of Abba than an hour of The Beatles.
- Klaus, 4/29/18
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George K
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Finally
A historic 125-year-old home, described by former owner Judy Koessel as "waiting to be saved," burned down early Thursday morning.

At 1:48 AM, firefighters responded to the call and were warned en route that the structure was "totally involved," said fire chief Gordon Nord. The cause of the fire was still under investigation, he said. The house wasn't connected to a natural gas line, and neighbors and Koessel said it was frequented by squatters who had done a bunch of damage to the house even before the fire, in part because the county did a poor job of boarding it up.

The stone home was designed and built in 1893 by Alexander Watson, who went on to live in it himself. (Watson also built the first pedestrian bridge to cross the river in the historic western suburb.)

The house had been preserved to keep the original woodwork and stained-glass windows. Koessel says the stone Victorian home was "very significant" and had been in spectacular condition.

But the house was one of nearly two dozen located in a floodplain, and in 2016 the Cook County Land Bank Authority slated it for demolition. The land bank was required to conduct an architectural survey before destroying the homes, and Koessel's home, was determined to be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. At one point a county official even told Koessel in an e-mail that the home could be used as a "Forest Preserve house or office." The demolition was put on hold.

Rob Rose, executive director of the Cook County Land Bank, said Thursday evening that the county had been awaiting word on what to do about the house from the Illinois State Preservation Agency.

"When we found out that this house was eligible, we sent the paperwork to the state agency," Rose said. "We were in a holding pattern waiting for the next step."

He added: "When we hear one of our buildings burned down, we're not happy about it or anything.

The state agency had earlier asked about the feasibility of moving the home, but Rose said it was too expensive.

"We did a cost-benefit analysis of relocation and determined it wasn't feasible with the cost of land and moving," he said.

Officials with the Illinois State Preservation Agency couldn't be reached for comment Thursday.

The house also featured a mural by William de Leftwich Dodge, an American artist best-known for his mural in the Library of Congress. Koessel discovered this only when a previous owner pointed out the signature in the corner of the mural in the house.

"I put his name into the computer and a bunch of stuff came up," said Koessel. "I saw a black-and-white photo, and it had the same figures in a painting that my mural had in it. And it said it was at the World Columbian Exposition in Chicago 1893."

After 15 years of research, Koessel determined her mural was the model for Dodge's larger mural for the Administration Building at the fair. The mural was removed from the house in July 2016 and cleaned and repaired. The Newberry Library plans to feature it at an exhibit in the fall, she said.

Posted Image
The mural before it was removed and restored - JUDY KOESSEL

Posted Image
There was leaded glass and woodwork throughout the house. - JUDY KOESSEL

But the rest of the home hasn't fared as well. After the county took it over when Koessel left in October 2016, the house was repeatedly broken into and vandalized, Koessel and neighbors said.

Posted Image

"The house was in pretty good shape after we left," Koessel said. "But then, in the early spring, problems started. The biggest problem is that the county did come through and board up the windows and the doors. But they didn't do the basement windows—which anybody who knows how to protect your house, the basement is the most likely place where people will break in."

Koessel said she became aware of the break-in when she saw paint splattered across the garage, the same color she'd used to repair chipped and cracked walls. She knew that vandals had made their way through the entire house when she saw scattered copies of Connoisseur magazine taken from her husband's drawing studio in the attic laying outside.

"I called the county, and the next day they came and boarded up the basement windows," continued Koessel. "I thought maybe there wouldn't be any more damage. But evidently through that summer and fall, somebody took their time and pried off one of the basement windows."

Because the house wasn't receiving electricity, the pumps Koessel used to keep it from flooding weren't running.

"That basement was filled with water at least seven or eight times," said Koessel. "What a shame, what a shame, what a shame.”

Rose said the county hadn't secured the basement windows because "they didn't think someone would fit." Following the initial break-in he says he instituted biweekly inspections designed to prevent vandalism and squatting. He said those found no evidence of anyone being inside the home in the weeks leading up to the fire.

Neighbors disputed that, however. In interviews, they told the Reader there were signs that someone had been inside in recent days.

And Koessel says her former neighbors told her the same thing.

"They'd say, 'Judy, it gets rocking and rolling in that house so crazy sometimes that we're, like, afraid to live [here] anymore,' so I wanted it torn down so that these people, my neighbors, could feel safe again," she said.

Because of all the damage to the home after she left, Koessel said she wasn't sad to see her former "fairy-tale" home burn.

"Honestly, I'm happy. I'm glad," she said Thursday. "It was so hard to see the house in decline."

A guide to GKSR: Click

"Now look here, you Baltic gas passer... "
- Mik, 6/14/08


Nothing is as effective as homeopathy.

I'd rather listen to an hour of Abba than an hour of The Beatles.
- Klaus, 4/29/18
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Mikhailoh
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If you want trouble, find yourself a redhead
What a waste.
Once in his life, every man is entitled to fall madly in love with a gorgeous redhead - Lucille Ball
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Catseye3
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Fulla-Carp
Thanks, George.

Interesting to read more detail about the house and its -- sadly -- downward progression. I sympathize with Koessel's sentiment that she wasn't sad to see the house burn. It must have felt to her like a clean ending, as opposed to such a beautiful thing being exposed piecemeal to a bunch of vandals.

Still no word on the cause of the fire, I take it.
"If you can't be a good example, then you'll just have to serve as a horrible warning." -- Catherine Aird
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George K
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Finally
Catseye3
Jul 11 2018, 03:33 AM
Still no word on the cause of the fire, I take it.
Nope.
A guide to GKSR: Click

"Now look here, you Baltic gas passer... "
- Mik, 6/14/08


Nothing is as effective as homeopathy.

I'd rather listen to an hour of Abba than an hour of The Beatles.
- Klaus, 4/29/18
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Klaus
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HOLY CARP!!!
Do you have rules about monument conservation that may have applied to this house?

They can often be an incentive for malicious arson because there are all kinds of all rules about what you cannot do with a house protected by those rules.
Trifonov Fleisher Klaus Sokolov Zimmerman
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George K
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Klaus
Jul 11 2018, 04:13 AM
Do you have rules about monument conservation that may have applied to this house?

They can often be an incentive for malicious arson because there are all kinds of all rules about what you cannot do with a house protected by those rules.
AFAIK, the house was only eligible for consideration as a landmark, but that never moved forward. It was slated for demolition because the area in which it stood was frequently flooded by the river, and the county bought up all the properties in that area. So, the county owned it, and planned to tear it down.
A guide to GKSR: Click

"Now look here, you Baltic gas passer... "
- Mik, 6/14/08


Nothing is as effective as homeopathy.

I'd rather listen to an hour of Abba than an hour of The Beatles.
- Klaus, 4/29/18
Online Profile Quote Post Goto Top
 
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