Hoffman Estates Park District may honor memory of Bergman farmhouse
The long history of the 119-year-old Bergman farmhouse in Hoffman Estates seemed to end with its demolition last summer, but there could be an epilogue.
Hoffman Estates Park District officials plan to consider options to honor the legacy of the venerable structure through their anticipated takeover of its former site and the foresight they exercised in salvaging some of its lumber.
Executive Director Craig Talsma said these options involve the site itself on the north side of Algonquin Road west of Ela Road and the Willow Recreation Center about a mile farther west.
But it was the decision last July to recover some of the house's doors, floorboards, and door and window trim, plus a built-in bookcase, that have kept these various options on the table, he added.
"I'm an old picker at heart," Talsma said. "It was just too beautiful to leave it all to a landfill."
While the park district plans to leave the site as passive open space, approximately doubling the size of the new Bergman Pointe Park where a playground was completed last year, the lumber could be used for either a second gazebo or park benches there or for creation of a replica of one of its rooms at the Willow Recreation Center, Talsma said.
The park district is applying for a grant to help fund a renovation of the center and an exhibit honoring the Bergman house could be a part, he added.
Though there is already a gazebo at Bergman Pointe Park, construction of a second could be an alternative use of the lumber if the plan at Willow Recreation Center doesn't work out, Talsma said. Either way, a plaque at the park acknowledging it as the former site of the farmhouse is an option.
Demolition of the house came only after the last hope perished of finding a private developer with the will and financial resources to restore it after a four-year effort by village officials.
On Monday, the village's planning, building and zoning committee is expected to direct staff to work with M/I Homes -- which built the 81-home Bergman Pointe subdivision on the former farm site -- to transfer the deed of the farmhouse land to the park district.
While M/I Homes had no interest itself in restoring the house, it didn't oppose another party doing so. Village board members never wanted to commit taxpayer money to preserve it but believed it had sufficient historic value to seek an investor to restore it.
A study by Benjamin Historic Certifications of Highland Park in 2015 concluded the 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 the house had been built about 1900 by Daniel Bergman Sr. His grandson Harold, who continued to grow hay on the property until his retirement and the sale of the land in 2015, was born in the house in 1916.