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The House Through the Years (a gallery)
Historical Architect Michael Lambert examined the Prairie House before any restoration had occurred. He developed this 'view' of the old two room schoolhouse as it probably looked in 1853. With the interior wall coverings removed he speculates the position of the door and window.
Other investigations have yet to determine the exact placement of windows. Upon the removal of several layers of floors we discovered the schoolhouse's original floor. This find is important because it allows for the examination of the floor's wear patterns. This is like an archeology 'dig' because we can see the flow of traffic and approximate the probable location of a heating stove.
Research committee member Lana Gits, created her own interpretive drawing
of the first Immanuel Lutheran school after examining the 1836 Fischer cabin in
Bensenville, IL. This structure (still intact) was built by German Lutheran
immigrants from the same area as our first settlers - Hanover Germany. She
believes there might have been one or two trees near the schoolhouse when it was
first built in 1853.
The schoolhouse was built for the Immanuel Lutheran community and was the only schoolhouse serving the community for several years. One room served as the classroom while the second room was the teacher's living quarters. The schoolhouse survives as the oldest part and 'heart' of the Franzosenbusch Prairie House. The schoolhouse was built with rough-hewn wood beams and bracing.
With the expanding population of the Franzosenbusch community a new schoolhouse was built in 1858. The old schoolhouse was moved from its original location south and east of Wolf Road....
...to west of Wolf Road...
...and a two-story addition was built using 'balloon' frame construction -- with vertical wall studs running from the first story baseboard all the way to the ceiling of the second floor. Our historical architect concludes from the pre-Civil War 'balloon' construction techniques that the addition was probably built between 1858 and 1862.
Over the years a second floor was added over the old schoolhouse section of the building, expanding the back of the house to include an indoor stairwell to the second floor and indoor bathrooms.
In 1925 Nelson, Stella and Ruben took up residence in the House.
The house as it looks in the 1940's showing an enclosed south porch.
The House, circa 1982, shows the north side of the house and its enclosed porch. This north porch may date back to the 1860's but was probably not initially enclosed.
Podcor donated the House to the Westchester Historical Society on the provision it be moved to another location. The house was raised off its foundation and moved to a secure location at the south end of the Podcor property. The enclosed front and rear porches were removed because of structural insecurity. It remained there for many months while funds were raised. (Photos courtesy of Lawrence Godson.)
Eventually it was moved again to just across Constitution Dr. from its present location. Next the basement area was excavated and the house was carefully rolled on its transport wheels onto a raised platform in this excavation. A series of heavy timber columns were constructed under strategic locations of the house and it was raised by hydraulic jacks far enough off of its wheeled carriage to allow complete forms for the basement walls to be constructed.
After the concrete was poured and had sufficiently cured, the house was lowered into place.
(Photo by Lawrence Godson.)
A temporary porch was built for us until extensive restoration work could proceed.
(Photo by Lawrence Godson.)
After the move siding was replaced and a new porch constructed.
(Photo courtesy of Lawrence Godson.)
An addition has been built to the south side of the house after the existing structure's exterior has received significant interpretive restoration. A viewing deck will be added to enjoy the beautiful vistas of Wolf Road Prairie to the south.
Members of the Franzosenbusch Heritage Project have worked to purchase antique furniture which resembled the 19th Century era when one section of the Franzosenbusch Prairie House used to be a two-room schoolhouse for the Immanuel Lutheran School.
Picture from the Suburban Life Citizen, October 23, 2002.