Guided tour of the motor room and solarium

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Joanne Kosey

With spring heating up, it's the season for many things, among them housewalks. With the Olmsted Society gearing up for their housewalk fundraiser in May, I decided to think more about the history of our house.

There really isn't much in the way of historical significance, but it is our home and could qualify for what I have always talked about organizing - the Unknown Architects Tour, which would cost very little and everyone would receive a map and a brown bag lunch with a peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich, a Twinkie and a juice box.

It is fun, though, to know something about the house you call home, and this is what I know.

Our house was designed in 1940 by Arthur Maiwurm of Oak Park (see, I told you never heard of him) for Mr. and Mrs. W. Hallen on land that was formerly owned by Edith McCormick Rockefeller.

I don't know what plans she had for the property, but I think she would have liked Riverside had she built a home and stayed. We believe we are the fourth family to reside in the house; we moved in to the house in 1968.

We have the original plans for the house. They were given to us by former Riverside resident Ginny Kovalsky, who was related to the Hallen family and came across them as she was clearing out some of her relatives' things. Thank you, Ginny. The Hallens moved several times and had taken the plans with them on each move. I'm glad they did.

It's interesting to note what some of the rooms were called, according to the plans. The garage was formerly referred to as the motor room, and what we call the TV room was the solarium. Obviously they never believed anyone would devote a whole room just for TV.

The windows were made by Pella, and as a testimony to their quality we only replaced them a few years ago. The Hallens, we were told, had installed an elaborate electrical system. However, some of the system no longer works, possibly done by subsequent owners. Electricians who have looked at it always say they have never seen anything like it, and you know that is something you never like to hear.

I could go on with a few more tidbits but, suffice to say we call the rooms in the house by what they are - Tina's old bedroom is still "Tina's bedroom" and Michael's old bedroom is still "Michael's room" even though they are long out of the house.

Look up info on your house. You may be surprised at what you learn.

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