BATAVIA – Charming curbside appeal, historical homes and clever renovations drew crowds to Batavia for the annual MainStreet House Walk, which offered seven stops on Sunday.
Those who toured a brick colonial home in the 300 block of North Lincoln Street learned that it was built in 1936 by architect Franklin G. Elwood, a Batavia resident who was a teacher and supervisory architect at Mooseheart and also designed the Sugar Grove Community House in Sugar Grove, which was built in 1929. The current residents are the fifth owners of the home, which features an updated kitchen, basement and sun room.
Batavia residents Jessica and Bill McGrail said they've attended the house walk for the last four years because it's the only time they get a chance to see inside of many original homes in the area.
"I always walk around and wonder what's inside," said Jessica McGrail.
"It's become a yearly tradition," said Bill McGrail.
The couple's Batavia home was built in the early 1900s, much like a colonial home they had toured on Sunday. They said they enjoy doing renovations and picking up ideas along the house walk.
"We're big into remodeling," said Bill McGrail. "We're constantly doing something."
Other stops on the tour included a stone cottage built in the 200 block of North Lincoln Street in 1940; a newly built craftsman-style home in the 400 block of Elm Street; an updated early 1900s white clapboard home in the 400 block of Union Avenue; an updated traditional home in the 37W900 block of Tanglewood Drive; and a tour of the old city hall at 30 S. Shumway Ave.
The seventh annual walk benefitted the Batavia MainStreet organization and its efforts to revitalize the downtown.
Docent Helen Thelin said the stone cottage home, which was featured as the first stop on the tour, was originally built by the Prindel family as their retirement home.
"Since then, as other people moved in, they've enlarged it without changing the charming curbside appeal," she said.
As people waited in line to tour the home, Thelin told them that every room in the home has some type of item from present-day Batavia. She also told them that the home's sun room overlooked a myobi maple tree in the home's front yard, which she said is believed to be the second-oldest in the Chicago area.
Another home on the tour – the white clapboard from the early 1900s – was originally a servants' quarters that used to part of a larger home but was moved in 1944. The home was purchased in 1886 by Dr. Richard Patterson, who was a doctor at Bellevue Place during the time Mary Todd Lincoln had stayed there, said one docent. The original home was built in 1863.
Cathy Dremel of Batavia said she has toured homes during the house walk in previous years and said she often gets from home to home on her bike.
"I just love to see the history of some of these homes. It's interesting that they've done updates but really retain the original flavor," she said.
She added that, like the McGrails, she likes getting a peek inside.
"I'm not a decorator, but I like to see what people do," she said. "It's like art. I can't do it, but I like to look at it."