It's an elaborate process, months in the making, getting that "Landmark Home" plaque sealed on your front door.
It doesn't start with a welder, either, but loads of research, which, if you're not history savvy, you'll want a landmark certification firm to take care of.
Once they've gathered the facts, you'll have to submit the information to the landmarks preservation commission, whose judges will deliberate on your home's significance as a landmark then bring the matter to a vote.
In the case of the Beebe family, they wanted their home, a 108-year-old Tudor mansion at 790 Bryant Ave., to receive the recognition 23 other homes in Winnetka have.
“It's unique,” said Lisa Beebe of her house, which is decorated here and there to resemble early 20th century chic. “Nobody has a house like this. If you love old homes, you love the charm of them.”
In 2001, after countless renovations, the Beebe family moved from their newly built home in Winnetka to the landmark home. Peter Beebe, Lisa's husband, owns a financial services company, while Lisa, who once worked in marketing for Coca-Cola, is now a stay-at-home mom.
"It's funny...we went from having a brand new home, where everything was perfect," she recalled, "to an old home, where we had to make everything perfect."
A few years later, they hired Benjamin Historic Certification of Highland Park to research the property.
The Tudor Mansion
Built in 1903 by an unknown architect, the three-floor home has six bathrooms, five bedrooms, three living rooms, a basement and an exceptionally spacious, granite-top kitchen. The house was designed in the American Arts and Crafts style of architecture, which prefers natural materials and a simple, handcrafted design over the structural precision and elegance of Victorian homes.
Crossed gable roofs, lead-frame windows and old porcelain tubs, replaced with stand-in showers, comprise much of the original house.
“We love the little touches,” Beebe said. “The quality is better, but not in the original electricity or plumbing [which was redone].”
Wandering through the many rooms, you'll notice subtle curves in the walls, a bowed roof in the living room and slight slant in the floor that has led the Beebe family to put small lifts under some of the furniture.
However, not one of the home's features are deficiencies, she argued. Instead, they're charming characteristics, still sturdy and uniquely human, that you just can't find in any home built today.
Over time, a restaurant owner, banker, two-time Olympic gold medalist and magazine publisher have lived in the house, along with servants, their family members and pets.
Howard O'Brien, who lived in the house with his family from 1929 to 1952, wrote a handful of short stories, novels and a column for the Chicago Daily News titled "All Things Considered."
But time goes on....
After several renovations throughout the house—in the kitchen, bathrooms, basement, etc.—and large extensions to the original structure, including an underground garage and living room on the western end, the home has become perfectly functional for her modern family, Beebe said. The total cost for all the work, including electrical and plumbing: $1.1 million.
“It didn't have all the things a modern house has,” she recalled from before they moved in. “This was the appeal...the flow, the high ceilings—you can't replace high ceilings if you don't have them.”
Along with the benefit of having extra headroom, freezing their property taxes for 12 years, as offered by the village for landmark homes, was just too good for the Beebe family to pass up.
With all of its perks, though, including a newly built mudroom for her husband and two boys, the home can feel a little like a castle, but Beebe makes sure it doesn't go to her sons' heads.
"I try to make them very aware," she said, recalling her childhood home that only had one bathroom, "and instill the values that [living in this home] is not normal."
And she's right, it's not normal. It's a landmark.