The inaugural Wheaton Preservation Award recently was presented to husband and wife John and Deb Lorentsen, owners of the 1850 Jesse C. Wheaton home at 310 W. Evergreen St., along with husband and wife Drs. Bryan and Danielle Bauer, who own Bauer Dentistry and Orthodontics. Last year, they moved their practice into the 1847/1848 Warren L. Wheaton home at 623 S. Naperville Road.
Jesse C. Wheaton and Warren L. Wheaton were brothers and founders of the city.
"It seemed fitting that the homes of the Wheaton brothers be the first recipients of this award," Wheaton Historic Commission Chairwoman Nancy Flannery said in an email. "It is our hope that the stewardship of the Lorentsens and the Bauers will inspire others to help preserve Wheaton’s history."
The first government of Wheaton met in the Jesse C. Wheaton home, she said. Flannery noted the importance of preserving history.
"Once a piece of history is destroyed, it is lost forever," she said. "Since the city of Wheaton does not have a historic preservation ordinance, we are dependent on the efforts of private citizens to preserve our historic structures. Their conservation of these landmark properties helps Wheaton maintain a sense of permanency and heritage. The Historic Commission created this award to thank them."
Preserving history is second nature to John and Deb Lorentsen, who grew up in Wheaton. The couple moved into the house in December 2012.
"We've always lived in old houses," Deb Lorentsen said. "We came from Main Street and Jefferson Avenue in Wheaton in an 1893 house."
Much of the original furniture and other items were still in the Jesse C. Wheaton house when the couple moved in, she said.
"It's unique," she said. "We've always enjoyed fixing up old houses. My husband's an engineer. A lot of the furnishings here look exactly the same. The house was in a movie called 'With Honors' with Joe Pesci."
She has learned the history of the home and owner Jesse Wheaton.
"Jesse Wheaton was a carpenter from Pomfret, Connecticut," Deb Lorentsen said. "He modeled this home after one in Pomfret."
Bryan and Danielle Bauer, who live in Wheaton, also are enthused about receiving a Wheaton Preservation Award. Their practice previously was down the road from their current location.
In 2016, there were plans to raze the existing two-story building at the northeast corner of Naperville and Roosevelt roads and construct a new 5,546-square-foot, single-story, two-tenant retail building. Starbucks had planned to lease a 2,048-square-foot store with a drive-thru. The developer decided to withdraw its proposal following opposition to the project.
By chance, Bryan Bauer's family has a connection to Warren L. Wheaton.
"My great-great-grandmother is Cora Butterfield, who was the great-great grandchild of Lyman Butterfield," Bryan Bauer said. "Warren had worked on Lyman's farm when he first came out here. That was just a nice piece of extra information. It was just like it was meant to be."
Information about the Wheaton Historic Commission's upcoming activities can be found at wheaton.il.us/preservationmonth.