Gazette Article by: Penny Kohlmeyer
Appeared in the Gazette: Summer 1999

The Three R’s of Old House Ownership

On March 14, 1999 a program was presented by the Winnetka Historical Society. It was offered in response to frequent requests from Winnetka residents for information on researching, restoring and rehabbing their houses.

Nan Greenough, former Chair of the Winnetka Landmark Preservation Committee and member of the board of the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois, opened the program with a detailed explanation of how to research the history of a house.

Greenough’s own interest in historic structures began at an early age. Growing up in three-hundred-year-old Woodbury, Connecticut stimulated her love for old buildings. Winnetka has benefited from her knowledge; she has provided the village with valuable information about its architecture and has helped many Winnetkans restore their homes.

Greenough described the structure files and reference materials available at the Winnetka Historical Society, the water hook-up records at the Village Hall, and other available resources in the Chicago area that provide important information about the history of a building.

The second speaker, Joan Evanich, is the president of the Winnetka Historical Society and a 17-year resident of the village. Owner of two houses in Winnetka during that time, Evanich recounted her experiences in researching the history of both houses before rehabbing one and restoring the second – two distinctly different processes. Describing the differences between the two projects, she showed slides that traced the evolution of the recently completed restoration of her present home.

Evanston architect Anne McGuire’s interest in restoring old buildings began when she worked on a fire-damaged structure at Columbia College. McGuire has handled projects for Fort Sheridan, Goodman Theater, and the Dawes House in Evanston. An experienced restoration architect, she explained the importance of preservation – saving the form, materials, and integrity of a structure – and highlighted the differences between rehabilitation, restoration, and reconstruction. Citing water as the main cause of structural deterioration, McGuire also described how insects, climate, and other conditions affect the longevity of buildings.

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