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updated: 2/15/2013 5:30 AM

Oakbrook Terrace working to save Sears house

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  • Oakbrook Terrace city officials say they'll work with historical society Director Bob Shanahan and his group to save a Sears Roebuck Homart home from the wrecking ball.

       Oakbrook Terrace city officials say they'll work with historical society Director Bob Shanahan and his group to save a Sears Roebuck Homart home from the wrecking ball.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer


Oakbrook Terrace city officials agreed with the Oakbrook Terrace Historical Society this week that a vintage Sears Roebuck Homart home should be saved from the wrecking ball, but both sides say many details must be worked out.

"At this time, the consensus looks like we're not going to demolish the house," Mayor Tony Ragucci said. "We have a lot of discussions with my staff before we can move forward."

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The city purchased the house of the late longtime city clerk Lorraine Fik in 2008 with plans to demolish it to create a retention pond when it builds a new police station east of city hall. That work is expected to start this summer.

Saving the house, located across from city hall at 17W245 16th St., would require the city to provide water retention by other means, such as under the police station -- a more costly option.

The move to preserve the house began after the recently formed historical society contacted architectural historian Rebecca Hunter of Elgin, who found proof of the home's authenticity in the markings on the basement floor joists. The prefabricated home was built by Lorraine Fik's husband, Edward, around 1950, and Lorraine had her clerk's office in the basement until the city got a building of its own.

Kelly Fik, Lorraine's youngest son, provided the historical society with photos of the house being delivered by truck and read a letter from the Fik family at Tuesday's city council meeting.

"It was a Sears home. (But) we never had proof until this lady from Elgin came out," Kelly Fik said. "It has been exciting the last couple months."

Bob Shanahan, historical society director, said the city asked the group to provide a budget for the home's renovations. The proposed improvements would include removing the vinyl siding and rebuilding a trellised porch that was part of the original house.

The costs of utilities, maintenance and liability concerns also have to be addressed. Shanahan said the society hopes the city will retain ownership of the home and lease it to the group.

"It's much more expensive for us to own the home," he said. "We have about $1,000 in our budget. It's about $6,000 a year to own and operate."

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