Historic Hoffman Estates farmhouse may get eleventh-hour reprieve
At the eleventh hour, the village of Hoffman Estates has received two proposals that could save the historic Bergman family farmhouse at the northwest corner of Algonquin and Ela roads.
Both would renovate the roughly 116-year-old house for use as a private, single-family residence -- not quite the nonprofit or public amenity the village board originally hoped for.
But with the clock having run out for any additional proposals, the question becomes whether the public's ability to see and enjoy a restored exterior is better than nothing.
For Mayor William McLeod, at least, the answer is yes. While he would have preferred to see a nonprofit use, he doesn't have a problem with any option that would prevent the house's demolition and respect its historic value.
"I think it's fine as long as the house is saved," McLeod said.
Village trustees will discuss the proposals at their planning, building and zoning committee meeting at 7 tonight at village hall, 1900 Hassell Road.
Both proposals come from local parties, said Peter Gugliotta, Hoffman Estates' director of planning, zoning and code enforcement.
But while one group wants to restore the house for its own use, the other is interested in flipping the house for resale.
The house sits at the corner of the 37-acre former Bergman farm, where only a year ago 99-year-old Harold Bergman was still growing hay for nearby horse farms and Arlington Park.
Since his retirement, developer M/I Homes has been building the first 41 houses of an approved 81-home subdivision on the former farm.
While M/I Homes had no interest in restoring the house -- where four generations of Bergmans were born, lived and died -- the firm owns it and ultimately will extend sewer and water utilities to it or demolish it, Gugliotta said.
The village and M/I Homes had anticipated giving the house away for virtually free, given the expense involved in turning it into a public amenity.
Last year, a Palatine architect estimated that $307,000 of basic repairs would be needed just to make the house habitable again. Any work that would turn the house into a community amenity based on its historic value would require at least a couple hundred thousand dollars more, Gugliotta said at the time.
It is unclear how the two new proposals' would affect the plan to give away the home.
A study by Benjamin Historic Certifications in Highland Park last year concluded that the Bergman house would be a strong contender for listing on the National Historic Register because it was owned by four generations of the same family without any significant changes.
The study determined that the house was built about 1900 by Daniel Bergman Sr. His grandson, Harold, was born in the house in 1916.
Gugliotta said there have been no plans for how to use the site if the house is demolished. Green space is the most likely candidate.
While village officials have been advocating for the historic preservation of the house, they've made it clear that any expenditure of public funds is not in the cards.