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Historic house on Linden St. torn down

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BLOOMINGTON — A late-1880s Linden Street house, once eyed as a future education center by the Old House Society, has been razed.

“The idea was a wonderful sentiment,” said Old House Society President Patrick O’Sullivan, “but this particular property was in pretty desperate shape and the Old House Society was not in a financial situation to sink in the considerable amount of money to maintain it.”

The lack of maintenance caused the house at 904 N. Linden St. to “deteriorate past the point where restoration was really possible,” O’Sullivan said. “It was a detriment to the neighborhood and a potential safety hazard.”

Water damage from a roof that was in desperate need of repair disintegrated much of the flooring, making it unsafe for anyone to go in.

Mike Ryburn, coordinator of operations for the Old House Society, only was able to salvage a few things from the house, O’Sullivan said.

Tough choice

“It was a difficult decision (to raze it),” he said. “We as an organization advocate and support efforts to protect and restore older buildings. But the reality is that if a roof is not water tight, it destroys a building very rapidly.”

The Old House Society had tried to sell the property for a few years. O’Sullivan said the board hopes someone will be interested in purchasing the lot. The society bought the house and land for $36,000.

The land was once owned by Jesse Fell, founder of the town of Normal and friend of President Abraham Lincoln. Fell sold it to his friend, David Davis, who Lincoln later appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Famous carpenter

Davis sold it to Charles Cantine, a carpenter, in the late 1880s. Cantine built the home.

Greg Koos, executive director of the McLean County Museum of History, said the house is of “vernacular architecture” — a personal expression of a craftsman’s knowledge and talents.

Koos said Cantine’s son was responsible for designing Miller Park during his internship at the University of Illinois in the 1880s.

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