New uses considered for Homewood’s Gottschalk House
By Steve Metsch firstname.lastname@example.org September 14, 2012 5:00PM
Josh Solomon stands in front of the historic Gottschalk House which he is selling in Homewood, Illinois, Wednesday, September 5, 2012. | Joseph P. Meier~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 18, 2012 6:03AM
If you have a spare $649,000, you can buy one of Homewood’s most famous landmarks, the Henry Gottschalk House.
A “for sale” sign stands in front of the stately brick house, 18101 Martin Ave., which was built in 1891 by Gottschalk, who made his fortune manufacturing bricks that were stamped with the word “Homewood.” The brickyard stood on 183rd Street where’s Walt’s now stands.
Josh Solomon, who owns the house with business partner Porter Palmer, said the time is right to sell. He and Palmer paid $499,000 for the house in 2006 and put in extensive renovations.
“We bought it, fixed it up and got it rented out. There was one tenant in here when we bought it,” recalled Solomon, 37, of Homewood.
The house has a business on the first floor and eight apartments, four on the second floor and four on the third floor.
If potential buyers are looking for ideas, Solomon, Homewood Mayor Rich Hofeld and village historian Elaine Egdorf have some suggestions.
They’d like to see the Gottschalk House turned into an upscale restaurant or a bed and breakfast.
Solomon smiled when asked if he and his partner would be smarter to keep the house and make the changes themselves.
“I’m not a restaurant guy,” he said.
Solomon, a real estate broker for Rowhouse Realtors Ltd. who also works for Metra as a communications supervisor, thinks renovations could be done for about $3 million.
“One thing that makes it in Homewood is restaurants and bars. You have a mix of blue- and white-collar residents, you have five country clubs nearby, you’d pull the people in there,” he said.
The site “is ripe” for development and there has been “some interest” from potential buyers, he said.
“It’s right in the middle of downtown Homewood. How cool would it be if a bar, restaurant or bed and breakfast went in here?” Solomon said.
Leading a reporter and photographer on a tour, he noted the south lawn and porch could be used for outdoor events. The basement, he said, could be turned into a speakeasy-style tavern. The apartments could be retained, or renovated for a bed and breakfast.
“There’s no ghosts in there, but there’s some history. It’s a treasure for the community,” Solomon said. “I’d love to find the blueprints and restore it to its former luster.”
Hofeld wouldn’t mind seeing a restaurant on the first floor.
“You know, back in the ‘80s, we tried to get Helen’s Olde Lantern to move from Blue Island to the Gottschalk House, but it never worked out,” he said of the now-closed steakhouse.
“I still think it would be a great restaurant site with that wrap-around porch. People could sit outside. I’m thinking of specialized dining, not just a burger joint. Somewhere you’d go for special occasions. Something that has some zip to it,” Hofeld said.
A strong selling point is the location, he said.
“The nice thing about the house is it is in the center of town, and we have most of our outdoor events in front of the place. Our Fall Festival is moving there. and we have a street and garden fair down there. All our summer events” are downtown, Hofeld said.
Egdorf recalled the failed attempt to lure Helen’s Olde Lantern. She’d like to see a restaurant or a bed and breakfast in the house.
“I feel we need a nice sit-down restaurant. I really miss that. I also think a bed and breakfast would work there,” Egdorf said.
She noted that if the Gottschalk House were to become a bed and breakfast, guests could shop in downtown Homewood, and walk to the Metra station for trains to downtown Chicago.
“There are some interesting things do out here, too. They can see the murals, play golf at Ravisloe. This could be a quaint, interesting place. The plumbing is already in there for the apartments, so they wouldn’t have to make that many changes,” she said.
She noted that the former Bank of Homewood is being renovated into a boutique hotel, proving the need for such businesses in the village.
Fred Behlen owns Laitek, a hospital data service company that has been on the first floor since 2009.
“We love this,” said Behlen, who’d prefer to not relocate.
Nor would office manager Kelly Salzburg, of Chicago’s Clearing community.
“I love it. We have eight-foot (tall) windows that open all the way, giving you a nice breeze. It’s just a cool building to come to every day,” Salzburg said.