Former 'Munsters Mansion' in St. Charles listed for sale
How does a Queen Anne style mansion on the west side of St. Charles go from being tagged as "the Colonel's house," to "The Munster House" and, finally, to the "Raven Branch" house?
It's all in the history of the home that is now for sale at 405 S. Seventh St. after its most recent timeline of being an assisted living home for the Robin's Nest service, which called it the "Raven Branch" of its four senior assistance homes in the area.
I've written about this house a few times in the past, with the simplest reference being that youngsters in that neighborhood through the 1960s called it the "Munster House" when it had green paint on it and looked, well, like the home Herman Munster lived in on the popular TV series.
When owner Annshirley Bowie was getting ready to move out of that home in 2008 to move to Ohio, there was some concern in the neighborhood, and even with the St. Charles Historic Preservation Commission, about her intentions to sell to a developer considering leveling the place and building a few new homes on that spacious lot.
When Robin's Nest took over the site, only one other home was built on the property, just to the south of the mansion.
I'm not sure what made Robin's Nest move on, but Realtor Kim Scott of Coldwell Banker said the elderly residents were moved into other Robin's Nest properties and the house was put for sale.
She has it listed at $500,000 and the place certainly looks much different from it did just a couple of years ago. A fresh coat of tan paint and a new roof on the house, as well as some work on the stone facade of the front porch, have made that difference.
"In what I looked up about the house is that the historical society deemed it 'historically significant,' but not really a historical site," Scott said. "And it was built somewhere in the 1890 to 1895 time frame."
Col. Charles Miller, a Civil War sergeant who became Kane County clerk, built the house, which was one of four original mansions built along Seventh Street at that time.
"It's really in good shape, with a lot of the original woodwork and details still in place," Scott said. "This house has been kept up really well."
Regardless of who buys the house next, and what that might do to the structure's historic timeline, it won't change a simple fact when considering my eye test: This is one of the coolest looking houses in the area.
A restroom upgrade: In the recent past, when workers have been busy at Mount St. Mary Park in St. Charles it meant the park district was adding some playground equipment or skateboarding ramps.
This time, all of the digging and setting of new pipes means a new restroom touting "flushable toilets" is being built near the tennis courts on the park's north side.
With so many families and individuals using this park for various activities now, the current small restroom structure wasn't enough any longer.
Park users will appreciate this significant improvement any time nature calls during their visits.
Prairie Centre on the rise: It may trigger a few double takes over the next year or so because it is such a change for this part of the St. Charles landscape.
It may take time to get used to the idea that Shodeen Inc.'s Prairie Centre project is underway, with its first building going up on what has been empty land since the demolition of the empty St. Charles Mall in 2003.
The end of that west-side shopping center left behind a parcel bordered by Prairie Street to the north and Lincoln Highway to the south that Shodeen eventually acquired and set sights on a housing and retail development.
It certainly took more than a few years to shake out the details and get city officials comfortable with the concept of roughly 670 residential units and some new commercial space, and it also changed from its original concept name of St. Charles Towne Center to the current name.
But one thing was certain all along. Plenty of empty structures were going to come down for this major west-side makeover.
Not only did the empty mall site come down, the wrecking ball also took out former Burger King and Colonial restaurant sites as well to make way for the new project. Both restaurants relocated on Randall Road.
A dinner invitation: In providing a list last week of the area churches offering free community dinners, St. Charles Episcopal Church member Bo Smith was quick to invite me to that church's spaghetti dinner held from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. on the last Sunday of the month.
I'll have to round up my friends who have gone to some of these events with me and stop in for some spaghetti. The folks at this church should know a thing or two about a good spaghetti dinner. They've been hosting that event for 10 years now.
I also checked in with Geneva United Methodist Church to get the status of its current break in the popular Third Tuesday Suppers program.
The hunt is on for leaders who are willing to organize the event and "run the kitchen," so to speak. It's a big job, but maybe one that a few friends could operate by committee.
Prolonged annoyance: This one has to be placed in the "You Were Stupid" file because it could have possibly saved me from what turned out to be nearly eight weeks of varying degrees of annoyance.
I was stupid because I never got the vaccine for shingles, the dreaded herpes zoster virus that apparently lurks in all of us who had chickenpox in our youth.
The virus likes to rear its ugly head mostly in older folks, but apparently it can hit just about anyone.
Mine hit during our worst snowstorms, so the combination surely resulted in the winter of my discontent. It also fooled me because the first sign was an unusual pain in my back and side. I've never had back problems, so I was thinking this was simply a case of shoveling too much snow.
Soon enough, the red rash appeared on my side and back, and my doctor quickly filled me up with anti-viral meds. In reading up on shingles, I knew this could be a long haul. And it was.
People with shingles usually go to work and go about their daily routine, but they aren't comfortable doing it. For me, working from home regularly, it was just a matter of pumping in a few ibuprofens each time I was going to be out at an event.
My message to others would simply be to not ignore any ads or stories you hear about shingles. Baby Boomers, especially, might just think it's a marketing gimmick to get them to spend even more money on health care.
That's what I thought. And it's why the whole episode is filed under "You Were Stupid."