Mount Prospect Historical Society welcomes Holiday Housewalk guests for the 34th year
The Mount Prospect Historical Society will hold its 34th annual Holiday Housewalk on Friday, Dec. 2, this year showcasing a portion of two neighborhoods -- Arthur T. McIntosh and Co.'s Northwest Meadows built in the early 1950s on large, sidewalk-less lots, and the older neighborhood to the east, which was subdivided by the Lonnquist Co. in 1929.
The walk will feature the interior of one of Mount Prospect's oldest homes, built just after the Civil War; another built just before the Great Depression; two built in the early 1950s and two that have been built in the past dozen years. So, there is a wide assortment of styles and vintages on the walk, which will encircle Fairview School, just a few blocks south of Prospect High School.
The walk will be held from 3:30 to 9 p.m.
The two newest homes are part of McIntosh's Northwest Meadows. He was a prestigious land developer who is best known for developing Inverness. This is the only development he did in Mount Prospect.
McIntosh wanted to preserve the natural landscape, so he set strict standards for construction. No major roads were built into the community to give people privacy and to protect the natural setting. His homes were generally one story and followed the natural topography. No fences, curbs or streetlights were permitted.
The other four homes are arranged in a more typical neighborhood style of traditional blocks on land that was originally part of the Carl Behlendorf farm. His 1868 farmhouse still stands and will be featured on the tour. Half a block away is a charming home built early in the Lonnquist development, in 1929. This Spanish Swirl Stucco home is also featured on the walk.
Then history stepped in in the form of the Great Depression and World War II and no homes were built in the neighborhood for nearly two decades. The final two housewalk homes were built in the then-burgeoning neighborhood in the early 1950s.
The homes to have their interiors featured this year are: 319 N. Prospect Manor, owned by Martha and Vien Phong Trinh; 407 N. Prospect Manor, owned by Laura and Rob Ryndak; 420 N. Prospect Manor, owned by Sherie and Bob Thomas; 400 N. Fairview Ave., owned by Anne and Dean Granato; 402 N. Oak Ave., owned by Kari and Dan Schacke; and 300 N. Oak Ave., owned by Katie and Nick Papanicholas.
The stories surrounding these homes are fascinating and range from a traditional farmhouse on 80 acres inhabited by German immigrants to one that documents indicate was once owned by Marshall Field Jr.
During renovations of the 1868 home, a number of artifacts were discovered in the walls, including a report card from a school in Arlington Heights, an old grocery list and several children's high button shoes.
And the woman who lived in the small ranch home that predated one of the new homes in Northwest Meadows spearheaded a fundraising campaign in 1971 for local speed skater Robert Haenisch, to allow him to pursue his Olympic dreams. She reportedly went door-to-door on his behalf.
The home, which has replaced this public-minded woman's small ranch, is a large, impressive farmhouse-style two-story that was just completed last spring. It is owned by Kari and Dan Schacke, owners of Home Comfort Services of Niles, a heating and air conditioning firm.
A talented contractor, too, Dan Schacke handled the general contracting on the teardown of the previous 1950s ranch and the construction of their dream home. Their quest for a new home began, he said, when they received an offer they couldn't refuse on their longtime Des Plaines home where they raised four sons and then progressed to two short-term interim stops in other homes while they decided where they wanted to land long-term. Their youngest son is still in high school and has also enjoyed the home-hopping years, too.
This new colonial home is fascinating with exciting features like a fireplace with a window to the outside on its back wall so the fire can be enjoyed from both indoors and out; a large multi-paned window between the living room and home office they salvaged and refinished (ala Chip and Joanna Gaines); a unique brick, grout-less kitchen wall; a swinging pantry door that appears to have been salvaged from a Chicago public school; and an outstanding above-the-garage family room.
They managed to complete the home in just seven months because so many talented craftsmen were looking for work during the pandemic, Dan explained, but the costs of all the materials were very high because of supply chain issues.
"We designed the home with a rustic look and lots of windows so we can enjoy the gorgeous old trees in our backyard," said Kari. "And we have the kitchen, eating area and living room all open, but were able to close off the mudroom and laundry areas. I feel we have the perfect mix."
While they did tear down the original home, the Schackes chose to keep the original shed that all Northwest Meadows homes had. They have even recently sided it to match the new home and decorated it with holiday lights to match those on the house.
All of the homes will be exciting to tour in their own ways, whether because of the historic flavor, the lovely decorating or the new construction or renovation work that has been done, according to JP Karlov, housewalk co-chairperson.
Over the years since it was begun in 1988, the Mount Prospect Holiday Housewalk has opened approximately 170 different homes to the public for interior tours, headquartering the walk in various churches, the local historic train station, the Mount Prospect Golf Course, a bank and heated tents when no public structure was close by -- like this year. The Holiday Housewalk has also evolved from a Sunday afternoon driving tour highlighting homes all over the village, to a Friday night neighborhood-specific walking tour.
The annual event has raised approximately $290,000 for the historical society's operating fund over its venerable history.
The tour will begin at a heated tent situated near the intersection of North Oak Avenue (north of Gregory Street) where refreshments will be offered and watercolors of the featured houses displayed.
As usual, this walking tour will be accented by beautifully lit luminaria and parking will be available along neighborhood streets.
Commentary in the homes will be provided by volunteers from local organizations, businesses, schools and the community. Local florists and homeowners will provide the decorations. This year's featured florists are Mount Prospect Flowers and The Purple Rose of Mount Prospect, Busse Flowers and Gifts and The Flower Studio of Rolling Meadows, Pesche's Flowers of Des Plaines and the Kaleidoscope of Floral Design of Roselle.
Nonrefundable tickets will be sold for $28 each through Dec. 1 at the Mount Prospect Village Hall, 50 S. Emerson St.; Busey Bank, 299 W. Central Road; River Trails' Weiss Center, 1500 E. Euclid Ave.; RecPlex, 420 Dempster St.; the Central Community Center, 1000 W. Central Road; Millie's Hallmark, 1024 S. Elmhurst Road; LePeep, 10 E. Northwest Hwy.; and the Dietrich Friedrichs House museum, 101 S. Maple St.
Tickets are also available at www.mtphist.org. Those tickets can be picked up at a "will call" desk located at the headquarters tent during the walk.
Last-minute decision-makers may also purchase tickets on the day of the walk, beginning at 3 p.m. at the tent headquarters, but the cost will be $30 per person at that time.
"The Housewalk is the society's largest fundraiser of the year," Karlov said. "Its proceeds support the many educational endeavors of the society and help to pay for upkeep on our museum. We urge the public to support our effort to preserve local history through enjoying the housewalk and our other activities throughout the year."
Call the Society at (847) 392-9006 for more information.