Riverside’s oldest home sold, getting interior rehab

Is Riverside’s oldest house being breathed new life into? Whether or not we can tell much from the exterior improvements that seem modest at the moment, the interior of the building on Pine Ave. 78, according to the commissioned architect, underwent a complete renovation by the new owner of the house.

Despite its vastly altered state and the fact that it is almost invisible from Pine Avenue due to a tangle of vegetation, the house on Pine Ave. 78 a local landmark.

The building was built by William and Jane Wesencraft around 1855 and dates back to the founding of Riverside. The Wesencrafts sold a portion of their 26.5 acre property to the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad in 1862 to facilitate the construction of the railroad through the area, but their land was not part of the Riverside Improvement Company’s 1869 plan for the village .

Originally the cottage was decorated with Victorian Gothic gingerbread (as seen above) and stood in the midst of the family-planted pine trees that gave the street its name. (Courtesy of the Riverside Historical Commission)

When the Wesencraft family finally divided up the property bounded by Des Plaines River, East Avenue, Forest Avenue and the railroad access in 1889, the house was relocated a short distance to its current location.

It remained in the possession of the Wesencraft family until 1934, according to Riverside Historical Commission records, when it was sold in 1933 following the death of the Wesencrafts’ daughter, Charlotte.

The 1936 publication Riverside Then and Now states that the house was converted into four apartments that year and has since been a rental property that has undergone significant changes, preserving none of the Victorian Gothic gingerbread that once adorned its steep gables .

According to online real estate records, the building was purchased on June 15 for $ 221,000. Haobo Song, a suburban real estate agent, is the new owner. The previous owner, the late George Hurst, had owned the building since at least 1955, the earliest year his name appeared at that address on a Riverside telephone directory.

Ricardo Garcia, the architect who Song hired to redesign the interior, said the building still retains some historical features such as fireplaces (which will remain decorative) and a main staircase that will be retained.

The Wesencraft House, photographed for the 1912 publication “Book of the Western Suburbs” by Marian Ainsworth White.

“We’ll core it, but carefully because it’s a bit like Pandora’s box,” Garcia said of the renovation of buildings more than 100 years old. “They are not always built the way houses are built now. There are many unknowns because they are covered with slats and plaster. “

Once reconfigured, the ground floor will host two three bedroom, one bathroom apartments with open plan living / dining / kitchen plans. Upstairs there are three smaller units, two apartments with one bedroom and one bathroom and one apartment with two bedrooms and one bathroom.

In addition, Song intends to replace the building’s mechanical systems, install zone central heating and air conditioning, and replace the radiant heat currently in the building.

The building is currently vacant, Garcia said, and it is hoped that the interior renovation will be completed in spring 2022 and the units will be ready for occupancy.

As for the exterior, with a likely mid-20th century

“Maybe there is a second phase where something can be done outside, too,” said Garcia.

It appears that some of the heavy overgrowth darkening the property is being removed or trimmed back. Garcia said the plan is to clean up the landscape and plant some perennial borders.

“The bushes are being torn down,” said Garcia. “That’s a plus for everyone who lives there.”

Comments are closed.