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House Walk features charming, unique homes

House walk goers arrive at 230 North Lincoln St. at the 6th annual Batavia House walk on Sunday.
House walk goers arrive at 230 North Lincoln St. at the 6th annual Batavia House walk on Sunday.

BATAVIA – The ladies lined up and piled in, putting blue booties on their shoes, as they toured the 1890-built house at 230 N. Lincoln St., Batavia, Sunday, part of the 2012 Batavia House Walk, sponsored by Batavia MainStreet.

The historic home featured chic amenities, including two dishwashers concealed as cabinet drawers and an Aga Cooker in the kitchen.

Danielle Hollis, assistant to the executive director at Batavia MainStreet, explained that the British-made cast-iron Aga is not just any stove.

"It was designed by the Swedish physicist Gustav Dalén," Hollis said. "It has to be assembled at the home. It's not something you can just kind of roll in and place down."

The other interesting thing about the stove, designed in the 1920s by Dalén, a blind Nobel Prize-winning physicist, is that the Aga has to be on all the time.

Hollis explained that the gas is turned down in the summer when it's warm, and turn it up when it's cold in the winter – or when cooking.

"I just came back from a trip to Stockholm and a lot of the houses have Agas," Hollis said. "The one that I saw was a wood-burning stove and they would keep it going through the winter to heat the house."

Thia Tollas, 42, of Batavia, said she likes to see the different houses on the walk.

"I like older homes," Tollas said. "They have more charm."

Taryn Wangler, 37, of Warrenville, also touring the house on Lincoln Street, said she was taken with home's beauty.

"I just love houses in general," Wangler said. "I like to look at how everybody decorates. I like that it's old and it's charming. It's just very cute."
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              For Clara Speckman, 88, of Batavia, the house looked small from the outside, but was actually very spacious inside.

"When you see these rooms, they're large, really," Speckman said. "It's gorgeous and the colors make it look larger. I love this built-in [china cabinet]. It's very old, but it is really really nice. I'm impressed with the size more than anything."

Upstairs, the owners had made some changes, such as raising the top of the master bedroom into the attic, giving it multi-levels of ceiling. The owner had also put in a 1920s antique crystal chandelier in the ceiling.

"II like the uniqueness of it," Robin Thies said during the tour. "I like the woodwork – it reminds me of my grandmother's home."

Julie Johnson, also of Batavia, said the house had classic charm.

"The woodwork stands out in my mind," Johnson said. "And I like the crystal chandelier. And I like how they raised the ceiling level to the attic. I think that was a good idea."

Three other homes on the house walk, were 1101 Davey Drive, 843 Alberosky Way and another from the 1890s at 621 Main St.

The Main Street house garnered a long line of tour-goers, as the two-story home is small and docents can only let in six at a time, explained volunteer Mary Brock.

"It was hand-built by a Swedish tea merchant using what they called a balloon framing method of construction," Brock said as the tour-goers waited. "The balloon method revolutionized the way we build homes because it was inexpensive, it was faster and it did not require skilled carpenters."

Balloon framing involved pre-cut studs and lumber and put together with pre-manufactured nails. The speed and cost-efficiency of building this type of house, Brock said, made it possible for Americans to afford to own single-family homes.

Tina Straits of Oswego was one of about 15 people waiting in front of the Main Street house to see their fourth and last house on the tour.

"We do it traditionally, every year," Straits said of her group of friends together for house walk. "We get decorating ideas."

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