WHEATON – The efforts of a Wheaton couple to save a historic 1897 mansion set to be razed to make way for a housing subdivision continue to move forward.
Bob and Katy Goldsborough are seeking a special-use permit for a planned unit development to allow the mansion to be moved from its current location to lots seven and eight of the Loretto Club subdivision for use as a single-family house. The House of Seven Gables was designed by noted Chicago architect Jarvis Hunt, who also designed the neighboring Chicago Golf Club clubhouse.
During a July 24 public hearing on the proposal, Wheaton City Council members voiced support for the idea.
"I am certainly in favor of this," councilman John Prendiville said. "It's a good thing for the city. This is being done through private means, not through government financial assistance... We value history, we value culture, and I think this is an easy decision for us to move forward with this approval."
Councilwoman Suzanne Fitch agreed.
"It's an excellent example of preservation through private use," she said.
The City Council is set to vote on the proposal at its Aug. 7 meeting.
The couple originally was working to move the House of Seven Gables about 900 feet from its current location onto a new foundation on two lots. Following concerns raised by at least one neighbor, the couple now plans to move the mansion elsewhere in the proposed Loretto Club subdivision.
The closest home, located in the Marywood subdivision, is about 150 feet west of the proposed location.
"We believe the location we have chosen on lots seven and eight will help isolate the House of Seven Gables from neighboring property owners," Bob Goldsborough told City Council members.
Work already has begun on demolishing the buildings that surround the mansion, which recently was used as a convent as part of the Loretto Center, a sponsored ministry of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a worldwide religious community of Catholic women. The Loretto Center operated a conference/retreat center.
Landmarks Illinois, a statewide nonprofit group advocating for historic and architecturally significant buildings and places, had called for the preservation of the House of Seven Gables.
"Your approval will allow this extremely important historic mansion to be saved and remain one of Wheaton's most historic icons," said Lisa Dichiera, the group's director of advocacy, in calling for the City Council to approve the project. "It entails no public funds and does not negatively impact parking or traffic."
Wheaton Historic Commission Chairwoman Nancy Flannery also voiced support for the project.
"It's a win-win situation," Flannery said. "We all know that this is a very important historic building, and we shouldn't lose it, and now we don't have to. I think this could be a beginning and not an ending."