Libertyville heritage featured in historic house tour
Architectural character will be on display Saturday when MainStreet Libertyville hosts its annual historic home tour.
The event from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. will highlight the Heritage District west of downtown, and features homes from 1905, 1912, 1921, a 150-year old church and an interpretation of an Italian villa.
Tickets are $20 in advance at mainstreetlibertyville.org or MainStreet's office, 158 E. Cook Ave., or $25 on Saturday. Wristbands and tour booklets with a map will be distributed in Cook Park beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday.
MainStreet is a nonprofit organization that recently celebrated its 30th anniversary. The volunteer group has hosted a house walk the past 15 years to raise funds for its mission of preserving and promoting the village's downtown.
The tour in the early years was self-guided and participants were given a booklet with general information. Recent tours allow visitors to walk through the featured homes' interiors and learn details regarding architecture and other features.
"Three of the four houses look almost as they did when they were built. You can get history, talk to the homeowners," said Nan Grupe, co-organizer of the event.
Past walking tours featured a theme, like Sears homes or bungalows.
How are sites selected?
"We just scout out homes, we talk to people, we network and try to find people willing to open their homes," Grupe said. "We knock on doors, we send letters to people, we talk to realtors and interior designers and see what we can find."
Erin Kahn, a lifelong resident and real estate broker, has taken the tour many times. This year, the home she and her husband David, a real estate attorney, own will be among the stops. They bought the 1921 brick Georgian-style two years ago. It's the second home they've preserved in the Heritage District.
"This house is probably one of the most original homes still standing in Libertyville," she said. "It has the original floor, the original moldings, it's pretty remarkable."
Like other communities, Libertyville has experienced a number of tear downs, with older homes making way for much larger structures that may not include features reminiscent of old-time architecture.
"We've lost a lot of history. We've lost a lot of pretty homes," Kahn said. "People don't have the vision of what they can be and suit today's lifestyles."
The village has taken steps in recent years to foster historic preservation, including the adoption of a historic preservation ordinance in 2012 and creation of a commission to oversee it.
But homeowners largely have free reign to build what they want, Kahn said.
Ninety-five percent of residents surveyed in 2005 said historic preservation was important to the character of the community, which is a reason they live in Libertyville, said Chris Sandine, associate village planner.
The village in 2015 commissioned a survey of downtown and as a result created a historic district for 72 nonresidential properties. Changes to any structure in the district requires review by the preservation commission and village board as an added layer of oversight.
But to date, no one has approached the village on creating a residential historic district, Sandine said.