Hoffman Estates hopes private investor saves Bergman farmhouse
Hoffman Estates officials made it clear this week that while they're willing to take more time to find a buyer for the historic Bergman farmhouse at the corner of Algonquin and Ela roads, they're not interested in buying it themselves.
"We're not going to sink village money into this," Mayor William McLeod said Monday.
The house occupied by four generations of the Bergman family -- until 99-year-old Harold Bergman's retirement earlier this year -- has some historic value, though.
Because it stayed in the same hands without any significant changes, it would be a strong contender for listing on the National Historic Register, a study by Benjamin Historic Certifications in Highland Park concluded.
But a lack of major improvements -- and, indeed, general upkeep -- work against the house's value.
The assessment of a Palatine architect was that the house would require $307,000 of basic repairs just to make it habitable.
Any interest in turning the house into a public amenity based on its historic value would require at least a couple hundred thousand dollars more, said Peter Gugliotta, Hoffman Estates director of planning, building and code enforcement.
He added that there isn't much availability of public funds for anything right now, much less a project like that.
The village had previously asked developer M/I Homes to spare the farmhouse while it began preparing the rest of the property's 37 acres for the construction of 81 new homes.
As recently as the spring, Harold Bergman was still farming hay on the site for nearby horse farms and Arlington Park.
Village trustees agreed to take another two months to look for a private buyer or partnership interested in preserving the house before giving M/I Homes a final answer on either demolishing the structure or extending utilities out to it.
A couple of Hoffman Estates residents, including village historian Pat Barch, agreed with officials' approach.
While Barch said she'd like to see someone save the house, she understood as a resident the difficulties in the village buying the house itself. She's suggested that if demolition does occur, the Hoffman Estates Park District name the park at the corner after Georgia Bergman, a family member born in the house.
Robert Steinberg, a local podiatrist, said the farmhouse's uniqueness in the region -- not just the village -- should be determined before putting any great efforts into preserving it.
"Please be practical about this," Steinberg told the village board Monday. "Don't make this a feel-good project. Make sure it means something to someone."