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Historic Homes Tour features charming surprises at American bungalows

Diana Baldi and Bruce Baldi's Harris Brothers kit home at 148 W. Lincoln Ave. will be featured on Saturday's Historic Homes Tour. (Provided by Diana Baldi)

Diana Baldi and Bruce Baldi's Harris Brothers kit home at 148 W. Lincoln Ave. will be featured on Saturday's Historic Homes Tour. (Provided by Diana Baldi)

This year’s Historic Homes Tour in Libertyville celebrates the little big house known as the American bungalow.

The tour, which takes place Saturday, June 4, is a blend of 15 arts and crafts style houses known for architecture, which has been incorporated into the village’s most recent housing development on School Street, which will also be highlighted on the tour.

(PHOTOS: Historic Homes Tour.)

Diana Baldi and her husband, Bruce Baldi — whose home joins this year’s tour — have grown to love their 1925 Harris Brothers kit home.

“Our daughter Brooke, who is graduating from Libertyville High School — she’s put her name on it. She loves it so much she said she wants the house. I don’t know if we’ll be here forever, but we’ll definitely be empty nesters here,” Diana Baldi said.

While relocating from North Carolina in 1996, the couple almost missed the beige brick bungalow at 148 W. Lincoln Ave. Diana Baldi, who had come to Libertyville on a house hunting expedition, was getting ready to return to North Carolina without finding a house the family could afford, when a real estate agent found a price listing that had been corrected. Baldi gave the Lincoln Avenue house a look.

Original stained glass windows bordering a fireplace, a flourishing garden and plenty of storage nooks caught her eye.

“There’s a lot more room in it than you’d think from the outside,” she said. “It was a bigger house than what we wanted but the neighborhood and the schools are what we wanted.”

Bruce Baldi didn’t have a chance to see the house before the couple decided to buy it — three other people also were interested in buying the home.

Baldi jokingly told his wife he’d hold it over her head for 30 years if the house didn’t work out. But he’s since become a bungalow movement enthusiast.

The house dates back to 1925 and owner Dr. Lawrence Day. Day, the country home doctor between 1950 and 1970, added a second floor to the home, possibly for his practice, Diana Baldi said.

The house was later turned into a duplex, but converted back to a single family home before the Baldis moved into it.

The wide sweeping living room has become a gallery for the young artists of the Baldi family, but Diana Baldi still takes pleasure from the original nooks, such as a folding ironing board cabinet that has been converted to a spice rack.

Those small surprises and the space that continues to unfold in bungalows are what charms most, said Al Scott, MainStreet Libertyville volunteer and committee member.

“They all have kind of an arts and crafts type wood work, wood floors, have a fireplace, small stained glass windows next to fire place. Another thing that struck me was an awful lot of people participating replied that their house is a lot bigger than it looks,” Scott said.

Which is why MainStreet Libertyville allowed a brand new house to be a part of the Historic House Walk for the first time.

One of the latest houses of the School Street Homes will be showcased because its style and the developer’s vision is cousin to that of the older homes on the tour.

John McLinden, a developer with StreetScape Partners LLC, said SchoolStreet’s plan includes 26 smaller, arts and crafts-style bungalows costing about $500,000.

The home on the tour at 142 School St. includes gabled roofs, extended roof eaves, rafter tails, brackets, tall double hung windows with divided glass panes and bold color palettes. The interior plans also borrow from the bungalow design with rooms that are adjacent to each other and flow without connecting hallways.

The design of the neighborhood emphasizes a New Urbanist approach, McLinden said. He hopes this design will allow people to enjoy a home that is not too big to care for, and will help create an interactive community.

As part of the tour, several gardens and interiors will be open for viewing, and participants can walk or bike for most of the tour, Scott said.

MainStreet Libertyville volunteers will be in Cook Park distributing the Walking Tour booklets describing the history of the houses and directions to the various properties. The booklets are offered for a donation of $10 to MainStreet Libertyville.

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