Home Bought for $1 Threatened by Foreclosure

Gray, two-story Victorian in Glen Ellyn, moved and restored in a labor of love, now on the market

By Stefan Holt
|  Monday, Sep 12, 2011  |  Updated 3:35 PM CDT
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The gray, two-story Victorian on Elm Street in Glen Ellyn has been moved and completely restored.

The gray, two-story Victorian on Elm Street in Glen Ellyn has been moved and completely restored.

If you drive down Elm Street in Glen Ellyn, you can't miss Linda Hatchell's home. It's the gray two story Victorian with a wraparound porch.

"This was my dream," the recent cancer survivor said while sitting in the wood-trimmed dining room. "I saw the fireplace, the mantel and I was drooling."

You can smell the sturdy wood that wraps the home in vintage comfort. In the entry way, an original punch clock built in 1904 by International Business Machine (the company we know today as IBM).

Hatchell's history with this home began with love at first sight. Sadly, a "For Sale" sign now sits in front of Hatchell's dream home.

"It wasn't financially possible for me to keep the house," she said. Many of her belongings and antiques are packed and ready to move, but she is first waiting for a new owner to love the century’s old house as much as she has.

The first walls were erected in 1895, but the address wasn’t always on Elm Street. The entire home was plucked off the ground and moved to its current locale in 1989.

The house first lived off of Main Street, built for then-Village President Edgar McChesney. His name now proudly adorns a plaque next to the front door.

After decades of neglect, it was eventually purchased by the nearby Glen Ellyn Bible Church to be used as a place to hold Sunday school. But the building had already fallen into disrepair, and the cost to update the house to modern day building codes were unrealistic for the church leaders. They decided the building needed to be demolished for an expansion project.

It seemed the house's fate had been sealed until village leaders hesitated to grant demolition permits because of the building's historical significance.

The home was put on the market with an asking price of just $1 dollar and the stipulation that the buyer pay to move the entire house off of its location to make room for construction.

"I wanted to do it," Hatchell said excitedly, recalling that she paid for the house with coins minted the same year as the house was built.

A real estate deal that some might consider a steal, it soon required a lot more money and a lot of energy.

Hatchell said she contacted a family company that specialized in moving houses. After three tries with the village council, she finally got the approval to disassemble the houses's second story and truck the entire building down Main Street to its final location on Elm.

Just before a crane lifted the roof of the house, the crane operator pulled Hatchell aside.

"He goes, 'You know, I've never done anything like this before,'" she chuckled while remembering the conversation. "Who has?"

Crowds lined the street like a parade as the crane then plopped the house down at its new home. The cost of moving the home was more than $50,000 dollars.

The move did take its toll on the structure. There was some rain damage, and many walls needed to be torn down. Hatchell performed a bulk of the demolition and the wiring herself to save money.

The restoration brought the home up to code, but cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. She worked several jobs, took out credit cards, a mortgage, and even refinanced to help pay for the house.

Fast forward to 2005, Hatchell lost her job in the loan industry, and then in 2009, a doctor confirmed her worst fears: cancer. Medical expenses began to mount alongside the cost of her dream home.

Then the bank began to threaten foreclosure.

"I had one year left on my mortgage, and it would have been paid off," Hatchell tearfully said.

She has sold some of her antiques and is hoping to sell her home to help pay the bank, and be able to get back on her feet.

"I wanted to live here for as long as possible," she said.

But even knowing what she knows today, she said she would do it all over again.

"It wasn’t that it was a mistake, it was just that my future wasn’t as bright."

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