Message from John Tillotson & Lauri Wast
to People Concerned About Preserving the Edwards House
-–  April 26, 2015 –

To Everyone Concerned About Saving The Edwards House – We Are So Sorry We Could Not Make It Happen

It is with deep sorrow to inform everyone that the Tillotson/Wast Family has decided to discontinue our efforts in saving and acquiring the Edwards House. This decision was very difficult for us. What was most difficult is disappointing the many people who truly care about saving this significant historic building.

Deciding to enter into this realm of saving and acquiring the Edwards House took a “leap of faith” and a willingness to enter into an unknown environment. We did it out of passion where we just happened to own a property that provided the best option, and we just happened to have an ability to take the project on financially, or so we thought. We would never have ventured into this arena if it were not for the excellent work that had already be completed by Mike and Mae Behm, Village staff, Tom Nybo and the Friends of the Edwards House. They had already completed the core analysis of how to do this and what it would cost, and had already produced a draft financial model with Village Staff. This model included $140,000 of financial contributions through permit fee waivers associated with the condominium complex. This analysis was the basis for the Tillotson/Wast family to decide to accept taking on this project, at which point the Behm Family stepped aside.

As we have stated, the financials associated with saving the Edwards House have been unattractive since the beginning. It has always been a labor of love.

Our original request to the Village Council was for $123,000 in fee waivers associated with the building permits. With this contribution we would be able to partially cover the moving cost of the home, and we would keep our net losses in the $100 to $200 thousand range. The Council motioned to convert this request into a zero interest loan, and we declined. Over the next month we attempted to get various organizations to assume the loan liability. This did not result in any takers.

On April 8, we informed the Village staff that we would accept the loan. We knew that the project was dead if we did not accept the loan. So it was a last ditch effort to keep the project alive. On April 14th we were finally able to meet with the developer of the condominium complex. At this meeting we learned that the Edwards House must be removed from the site by May 15. This was the beginning of the end. We explained to the developer that it is not possible to remove the house by May 15.

In keeping with historical preservation, we are planning to move our current home at 743 Maple to the rear of the property and repurpose the home as a carriage house/garage. We are doing this to prevent needing to tear down our current home, which has historic value and is loved by many people, starting with our family.

After the thaw from winter we were able to get a closer look at the Edwards House. We came to believe that the investments required to restore it were likely even greater than what we had estimated in the beginning. All things added together forced us to make the only wise financial decision for us, which was to not pursue this initiative any further. We made this decision on Friday April 24. It was one of the hardest decisions we have had to make. It was also a decision we were sure we had to make.

We cannot thank all of the contributors enough who have put so much of their time and money into this initiative. They include:

Donations from: Rachel Benavente, McCoy Birch, John and Wanda Black, Eric Brossett, Michael Busse, James Cavallo, Elaine Cook, Karen Crowe, Scott Curran, Jan Curtice, Dorothy Fritz, Margaret Eder, Eileen Fitzgerald, Amy Gassen, Nancy and Gordon Goodman, Dorothy Gurney, Jamie Henderson, Rose Mary & Greg Hose, Theresa Kulat, Edward & Barbara Krause, Beth Neese Hillerstrom, Irene Hogstrom, Anne Jagielski, Daniel P. Telitz and Wendy Konczak, Ken Lerner, Thomas MacDonald, Christina & Brian Martin, Megan MacQuilkin, Michael Moats, Paul Naprstek, Kathy Nybo, Kimberley Ogdon, Geof Pawlicki, Ellen Raymond, Ronald Barbara and Douglas Slansky, Smith, Stature Custom Homes, Nancy Svoboda, Cindy Tschosik, Martin and Shanon Tully, Nancy Weiler, Shannon Weinberger, Mark and Heather Yeager.

Core Planning Team: Michael Behm, Kevin Butler, Karen Crowe, Hilary Denk, Kathleen Drennan, Amy Gassen, Gordon Goodman, Irene Hogstrom, Ken Lerner, Bo Martin, Christine Martin, Kathy Nybo, Tom Nybo, Melissa Nyssen, David Olsen, John Tillotson, Shanon Tully, Lauri Wast, Bill White.

Other Key Stakeholders: Doug Gilbert, Charley Smart, Bill Waldack, DG Village Staff

This list of concerned people is just a small sampling. There are many more.

So to all of the people that were hoping to save the Edwards House, we are sorry to disappoint you. We wish we could have made it happen. Going forward we are hoping that we can spring board off of this initiative to continue to work on intelligent policies and programs that truly do provide a balance of progress and tradition, as this is the vision of Downers Grove. The progress seems to be naturally occurring in our community. So we are going to be working with the historic preservation groups and all other concerned citizens on ensuring a better balance.

Thank you all for your understanding and support.

John Tillotson and Lauri Wast