Monee: County Landmark Status a Furst for the Village

(Photo by Karen Haave)
(Photo by Karen Haave)

A 1920s-era English Tudor Style house is Monee’s third Will County Historic Landmark, and the first private residence so honored.
The Will County Board on February 16 approved the request for landmark status for the residence, now known as the Furst-Blue House at 5359 W. Margaret St.
Owned by Janet Blue, it is the third landmarked structure in the village, joining the ranks with St. Paul Cemetery and the Monee Heritage Center.
Blue plans to open the house, which she has named The Rose Garden, as a Bed & Breakfast sometime next year. She said the date has not been confirmed yet.
“The Rose Garden is a work in progress; we have almost completed phase 3 of 4 for the property, phase 4 being the Coach House restoration,” she said. “COVID has slowed everything down, my plan is to open the Rose Garden in the spring of 2024, permits, finances and the Lord willing!
“I am very happy that all of the work and dedication to bring the property to where it is now can be reflected in the historic designation.”
The original application for landmark designation was submitted to the Will County Historic Preservation Commission in 2021.
As WCHPC Commissioners, Christi Holston and Andy Partak, an architect, researched the historical and architectural significance of the site in 2022.
“It’s gratifying to know that a historically and architecturally important structure is not only being preserved but will also serve a continuing useful purpose in an adaptive reuse situation,” Partak said of the County Board’s vote.
According to background information compiled by Holston, the Furst-Blue House is a privately owned and occupied single family residence located in the Village of Monee. The original house was constructed c.1857 and extensively remodeled in 1925.
Therefore, the period of significance runs from c. 1857 to 1925 when the last major changes occurred. The Furst-Blue House has historical and architectural significance as a good example of the English Tudor Revival Style and has served as single-family home for the entirety of its existence.
The house, and its outbuildings have undergone minimal exterior and interior changes since the remodel of 1925 and the property has been a local landmark in village life for generations.
The property was bought by Henry Furst and his wife, Elfrieda, in 1925 for $5,000. A Chicago millionaire and contractor who built the Palmer House hotel, Furst planned to use the property as a summer home.
“The Fursts made extensive upgrades to both the house and the grounds,” Holston noted. “They enclosed the property with an attractive fence and gates, planted a rose garden and drew up plans for arbors, trellis’s, a sunken garden, a vegetable garden and orchard. They also erected a coach house, caretaker’s cottage, and various other outbuildings.”
In his Architectural Evaluation, Partak wrote, “Ignoring later additions and repairs, the exterior of the buildings is an excellent example of the English Tudor Revival Style. The formal living spaces definitely follow this style, as well. The site itself gives the feeling of being in an English garden.
“Indeed, an important historical property.”
In unanimously approving an ordinance supporting county landmark consideration, the Village Board last year agreed that landmarking the home would be a point of pride for the village.
The original German family name was Fuerst, Holston noted, but it was anglicized and shorted by the family to Furst in the early part of the 20th century.
“We are pleased and proud that the homeowner, historical society and county commission have all worked together to bring about this important designation,” she said. “By preserving our past and sharing the stories of those Monee residents who came before us, we continue to strengthen the bonds of friendship and give us all a sense of pride in our community.”
Blue, a former village trustee, said there would be a dedication ceremony when she will invite all those who helped make the project possible.
later voiced thanks “to all those who have helped me restore it thus far, and a special thank you to Christi Holston for her work in pulling the historical data together for the presentation.”
“My intention is to invite all those who put a hand to its restoration and open it to the public on that day for all to enjoy.”
Freelance reporter Karen Haave and Editor Nick Reiher contributed to this story.

(Photo by Andy Partak)

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