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posted: 5/13/2013 2:53 PM

Historical society to plaque Crystal Lake house

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Submitted by McHenry County Historical Society

The McHenry County Historical Society Committee will hold a plaque ceremony at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 18, for the Josephine and William Lorimer Jr. House at 615 Lake Ave. in Crystal Lake.

The present owners, Rudolph Magnani and Lynn Lourie, have taken care in preserving and restoring this 1929 grand residence and will be awarded the plaque in a public ceremony.

A Chicago business man, William Lorimer Jr., was doing rather well in the timber industry. His business required him to make frequent business trips South and he was often accompanied by his wife Josephine. The South's pre-Civil War architecture greatly inspired Josephine and she dreamed of building such an estate up North.

Eventually the Lorimer's purchased several acres just across the street from Crystal Lake's, Main Beach, bordered by Lake Avenue, Country Club and Ringling Roads. By 1928 they hired a local builder, W. Frank Robbin, who claimed the "W" stood for "willing." Unaware of the hard financial times ahead, Josephine and Mr. Robbin broke ground to create a bit of Natchez, Miss., in Crystal Lake, the Lorimer Mansion.

Completed in 1929 this 5,000-plus-square-foot Federal Revival home, with its truly magnificent white portico, centrally located Palladian window, and unique white glazed brick Duntile walls, was often referred to as "the White House."

Upon entering this home one is greeting by a two-story foyer and rather grand open staircase with original balustrade. To the right the foyer opens up to a formal dining room with adjoining kitchen, sitting room and simple back staircase. To the left a large formal living room and adjoining music room awaits you. These formal areas all retain their original bold black and white checkerboard terrazzo flooring and arched windows with segmental pediments.

Midway up the stairs a large landing and the exquisite Palladian window with three Gothic arches in the pediment provides a panoramic view of Crystal Lake. The second level, with its original hardwood floors, houses the master and guest bedrooms, and baths. The silver door hardware, plaster work and trim details, reflect a touch of an art deco inspiration.

A separate simple staircase in the back services all floors, including the kitchen, garage, and basement. It is here, in the basement, one can find the origin of the unique white bricks used to build this home. The Duntile logo can be seen on several of the exposed basement bricks. These special bricks were locally produced from 1928 to 1936 at the site of the old Oak Industries building on the southeast corner of Main Street and Crystal Lake Avenue.

The Lorimer home and its "White House" title were a perfect fit for William, Josephine, their six children. Unfortunately their luxurious lifestyle was short lived as the depression took its toll on their business and by 1930 they were forced to leave Josephine's Natchez Mansion. Through the years several families came and went and sadly the home was divided into a rather neglected duplex. Today, thanks to the talent and dedicated restoration efforts of Rudy and Lynn, the Lorimer Home can once again proudly hold the "White House" title.

The McHenry County Historical Society invites people with architectural and/or historically significant buildings, homes, businesses, farms, to apply for a plaque. Contact the McHenry County Historical Society at (815) 923-2267, or go to [URL];[URL].[/URL]

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