Dave’s been fortunate to have been involved in some really cool projects over they past 30 years, but this one might just take the cake.
On April 11, a piece of Hinsdale history caught on fire. Thanks to the brave fire fighters, no-one was hurt, and Ruby, the black Lab was pulled from the fire unharmed. But the blaze, which started on the roof, raged for over 2 hours and there was a lot of damage.
Balloon framing, common for houses built in the 1800’s, left open gaps between floors, allowing the fire to spread rapidly from one floor to the next. There was extensive fire damage in the attic (which, by the way, once held a ballroom) and the second floor, and water damage on the first. Read more about the fire.
The Orland P Bassett House has been on the corner of 6th and Oak commanding attention since 1899. Many people know it as the ” American Beauty House” because the original owner is credited as the first person to produce The American Beauty Rose for the U.S. commercial markets (originally bred by Henri Lédéchaux in France in 1875, and named ‘Madame Ferdinand Jamin’). Actually, Bassett was originally a printer and successful publisher. After moving to Hinsdale in 1887, he began growing roses as a hobby. He built a green house to grow his roses, and eventually started a booming business, Bassett & Washburn, that introduced the American Rose to florists in the west. I like this guy. By the turn of the century, Bassett & Washburn was the largest employer in Hinsdale. No wonder his house was so spectacular. read more about Orland P Bassett
I always just knew it as the beautiful yellow house with the tennis courts. I used to run by it and admire it’s grace and beauty. I thought the roses were gorgeous but had no idea they were a nod to the house’s past.
Dave and I were in Martha’s Vineyard with our son Garrett and his girlfriend Megan following up on a renovation project when he received a video of the Bassett house on fire(He was building a new home across the street). We were heartbroken. Dave was a little concerned that the fire might spread, but was mostly just heartbroken.
It wasn’t until months later that we learned Dave Knecht Homes, along with architect Michael Abraham would be honored with the task of bringing this piece of history back to life. Even more exciting for us, and Hinsdale, was the fact that the owners were determined to rebuild The American Beauty House exactly the way it was in 1899 . Except for the ballon framing, of-course.
In 2004, The Orland P Bassett House was listed on the National register of Historic Places. The architect remains unknown, but it was designed in the Colonial Revival style, and reportedly cost an astounding $25,000 to build. The American Colonial Revival was very popular from 1880-1985 drawing from period American Colonial architecture styles as well as classical influences from the Greeks and Romans. Read: A Field Guide To American Houses
In 1942, some interior and exterior changes were made by architect Harry J Harmon that were compatible with the original architectural style.
In 2002, the owners took on a major renovation project and much of those exterior changes were reversed, recreating the full front porch and wrap around open terrace. According to the national Register of Historic Places, the only major 1942 changes remaining to the exterior are window changes in the second floor of the projecting bay and the alterations to the dormer above that front bay. We’ll see what we can do about that…