Urbana home built in 1902 gets facelift

In effort to go green as well as preserve Urbana’s historical roots, residents gathered together on Saturday to unveil the original 1902 siding on a Queen Anne house on High Street.

“Nothing is more green than restoring an old house,” said Bob Yapp, president of Preservation Resources, Inc. and former host of PBS’s “About Your House with Bob Yapp”, who led the event.

“The least green thing you can do is build something new,” he added.

The house’s original siding was covered with aluminum siding. Aluminum siding is a popular long-term alternative to repainting a house every couple of years, said Rebecca Bird, Urbana’s historical preservation planner.

The aluminum siding benefited the property and preserved the original wood underneath. Only one tenth of 1 percent of the wood was damaged, said Yapp. In similar cases, three to six percent of the wood is damaged, he added.

The volunteers who helped remove the aluminum siding were also very careful, which can make a significant difference, Yapp said.

“This is one of the best volunteer crews I’ve worked with,” he added.

The project was also intended to motivate other homeowners to remove their aluminum siding and preserve the historical aspects of their homes.

“The older homes are part of the reason why people want to live in this town,” Bird said. “It keeps the history of the community alive.”

“Hopefully it will have a trickle-down effect,” she added.

The project was funded by a federal grant from the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, but the homeowners will have to finance the repainting of the house.

The property is a currently a rental property, but the homeowners plan on converting it.

“Our intent is to convert it back to single family,” said John Cronan, homeowner and Urbana resident for 31 years. Cronan is also a professor in microbiology and biochemistry.

Even before being re-painted, the house’s historical elements are noticeable. It has a blue porch ceiling that was intended to resemble the sky and ward off wasps and bees, said Yapp.

“In central and northern Illinois we see this all over,” he added.

The house also has a gable and crown molding.

“It really will look beautiful when [the homeowners] repaint it,” Yapp said.