A Restored Barber House

Explore this pioneering home in Parkridge's renaissance

1702 Washington Ave.

2,744 sq. ft. | 4 bdrm/2.5 bath | $274,900 | Contact: Steve Hill | Realty Executives: 455-6161

It's fitting that, fresh from the 40th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, I should be writing about this house on Washington Avenue. The owner is a retired engineer who once worked on the space program (starting, if I recall correctly, with some of the later Apollo missions). Embarking on a second career as a finish carpenter, he took the same precision and attention to detail you'd expect from a rocket scientist and applied it to restoration. And it shows—not just in this house, but also all the others around town that he's worked on over the years, including a few small jobs around our old place on Washington.

I was thrilled when he and his wife first bought this place. It was the late '90s and the thought of restoring this place seemed about as ambitious as JFK's pledge to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. The neighborhood was struggling back then. Abandoned houses outnumbered the handful of restored homes by a significant margin. And then there was the condition of the house itself. Although not technically abandoned, the previous owner had slowly retreated while the place crumbled around him, living in a single room by the time he finally sold it.

However, as one of the original Parkridge homes designed by mail-order catalog architect George F. Barber, it was still worth the considerable effort required for restoration. Battered as the hundred-year-old house was, it was still recognizable from the photograph that accompanied Design No. 43 in Barber's Cottage Souvenir No. 2.

Twelve years later, with its chimneys, built-in gutters, four porches, and two balconies all rebuilt, it looks more like that old photo than it probably has in nearly a century. All that's missing is the wrought iron that originally topped the roof peaks.

Inside, seemingly every corner is crammed with ornate original woodwork and stained glass. The multiple fireplaces, all updated with gas logs, feature original mantels and tile. There are hardwood floors throughout, including multiple patterned inlays inspired by the original, restored checkerboard pattern in the dining room.

Currently two units (the restoration was financed in part by the historic restoration tax credits available for rental property), the home was carefully subdivided with conversion back to a single family in mind. Simply remove two partition walls, convert the upstairs kitchen into an additional bath (bringing the total up to three and a half) and enjoy one of the pioneering homes in Parkridge's ongoing renaissance.