A mid-century modern Illinois home that’s been offered for free since November — to anyone who can arrange it — still needs an owner.
The house was built for himself in 1967 by a local modernist architect, John Schmidtke. It was designated a historic landmark in 1996, but lost its status last year when the property was annexed by the city of Elgin, Illinois, where it is located. There is now an April 1 deadline for anyone to propose a viable plan to move it.
It is located on a site earmarked for industrial development by a company called High Street Logistics.
The Chicago Tribune reported in November that High Street Logistics was willing to help move the house — a rare offer from a developer not legally required to do so.
The company has been trying to spread the word through its Cheap Old Houses Instagram account. A recent post garnered more than 2,400 responses and 41,000 shares, sparking international exposure and a torrent of interest to a designated email address listed in the post.
“Since the Instagram post, our company has been in touch with some very realistic options for new owners,” said Jay Puckhaber, director of development and construction at High Street Logistics, in an interview. “We are optimistic, but it is still not a foregone conclusion.”
“We are working with people on the ground, including the city, to find a solution,” he said. “Our company will cooperate and help where we can.”
The house’s recent owners were Andrea Macias and Jacob Dohm, who bought the 2,200-square-foot three-bedroom, two-bathroom home from the Schmidtke family in August 2018 and turned it into a wedding venue. (High Street Logistics completed a purchase from Macias and Dohm in December.)
Moving the house would be difficult, but not impossible. The weight of the stones can pose a challenge, as can power lines and other obstacles along a potential route. However, because the house has a basement, movers can place the necessary supports under at least part of the floor. The house may even need to be split into two parts.
A historic preservation advocacy group, Landmark Illinois, is supporting the effort. Lisa DiChiera, the organization’s director of advocacy, said the group is “always ready to support developers trying to do the right thing to conserve significant cultural resources.”
“We hope the City of Elgin will also support these efforts with time and resources and help with finding a location,” she said, “or waive fees or expedite licensing if necessary.”
The Elgin Heritage Commission and the Elgin History Museum have recently written statements of support for its preservation.
There are success stories in home removals. The Lieb House, a pioneering example of pop architecture, completed in 1969 by Venturi & Rauch (now VSBA Architects & Planners), was famously moved from the Jersey Shore to Glen Cove in 2009 by barge, NY Frank Gehry’s Winton Guest House was not once moved , but twice.