ABOUT THE BUILDING

Built by one of Blue Island’s early farming families circa 1839, later residents included Norman and Julia Rexford – the first settlers in this area to construct a permanent residence on the Blue Island ridge with the Blue Island House in 1836. The Rexfords moved into this home after retiring to farm the land surrounding this house in 1852.

 

This structure was later home to the Swanson family, who operated a dairy on the property for many years, and later became the home to Babe’s Farmhouse Inn, a well-known – now fondly-remembered – local restaurant.

 

WHY IT’S SIGNIFICANT

This building is one of only a handful of pre-Civil War homes still standing in Blue Island, and is one of the oldest still in existence within our city limits. The only 2 homes that are known to be older – the landmark Wilson/Cooley House and Stephen Jones House – also face issues with deterioration and neglect, and are candidates for future Most Endangered lists.

 

Its status as a home to Norman and Julia Rexford – arguably the founders of the settlement that became the Village and eventually City of Blue Island – is also of major significance. Once a proud landmark on a busy stretch of a major state road, the property now only serves as a blighted eyesore for the community.

 

CURRENT CONDITION

The current condition of the building’s exterior can best be summed up as deplorable:

 

  • It appears as if the grounds have not been maintained in years
  • Many windows on the building have been broken
  • Parts of the home are exposed to the elements due to broken windows
  • Many entrances and window openings have been boarded up for what appears to be years
  • There are multiple signs of break ins and vandalism
  • Garbage litters the entirety of the property
  • Multiple light fixtures are broken
  • A small gazebo in the front of the property is in an advanced stage of deterioration
  • Almost all exterior surfaces are in need of fresh paint
  • Several awnings are likely past their life span

 

WHAT CAN BE DONE?

The City of Blue Island should hold the property owner accountable for the current condition of this property. Currently for sale by the owner, they may have better luck passing it on to someone who can fix and maintain the property if it was listed with a real estate agent.  There are currently about $31,965.74 in unpaid taxes and fees due, and according to the Cook County Property Tax Portal, a tax sale has not yet occurred.

Pictures

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Constructed by School District 130 in 1900, this George Maher-designed Prairie School building has sat vacant for more than ten years.

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Completed in the early 1990s, the park surrounding Blue Island’s iconic waterfalls has fallen victim to neglect, and even abuse by some visitors through littering and vandalism.

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