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After Decades of Neglect, Surviving Landmark Mansion Gets Another Chance

By Linze Rice | March 8, 2016 6:22am
 The historic Colvin House at 5940 N. Sheridan Road is due to get major renovations as it transforms into a co-working space. Here's what it looks like inside after decades of neglect.
Colvin House
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EDGEWATER — The historic Colvin House on Sheridan Road has seen better days — and luckily it's about to get a chance to return to its former state of glory.

Angela Valavanis, owner of Creative Coworking in Evanston, recently bought the property and let DNAinfo in for a tour of the former home — which has been a Chicago landmark since 1994.

The lakefront mansion at 5940 N. Sheridan Road was built by Frank Lloyd Wright cohort George Maher and has its Spanish-style exterior protected under the landmark ordinance, but Valavanis and her husband plan to restore what they can of the original interior as well as they transform it into another co-working space.

Owner Angela Valavanis said she's going to do all she can to preserve the historic details of the house, while giving it a much-needed lift into modernity. [DNAinfo/Linze Rice]

Currently, the home is in a state of disrepair: water damage is evident throughout ceilings, chunks of walls have broken apart, layers of paint and plaster are falling off and peeling away, and wires seemingly leading to nowhere hang across old pipes.

The building's previous owner lived in the home for more than 20 years, but due to declining health did little, if anything, to make repairs when necessary — including fixing a gaping split in the roof that allowed water to pour inside.

When the owner was no longer able to care for the property, an estate sale was held at the home, during which time some original artifacts of the home were mistakenly given away, Valavanis said.

The home's interior gives off an eclectic feel; details in the walls, trim, ceiling, pillars, fireplaces and windows tell stories of different owners and reflect various decorative styles from varying eras.

Still, many details unique to Maher's design are still found throughout the house and give a glimpse into the grandeur of its heyday.

Valavanis said she plans to scrap many of the added designs and details while doing her best to preserve wha she can save of the many rich, original pieces.

It will take at least six months, if not longer, she said, to open the building for members and the public to use as a shared or private work space, along with providing tours of the home.

Check out pictures of the Colvin House before its transformation into Creative Coworking later this year.

Looking north from one of the main front rooms. [DNAinfo/Linze Rice]

The second floor and chandelier. [DNAinfo/Linze Rice]

Looking south toward Thorndale Avenue from the foyer. [DNAinfo/Linze Rice]

Stained glass leading out to the front porch. [DNAinfo/Linze Rice]

Two porch partitions will become a work space with desks that face out the large windows. [DNAinfo/Linze Rice]

A second-floor bathroom is tiled a light purple, and is one of the most unique rooms in the house. [DNAinfo/Linze Rice]

Finely detailed radiator covers provide original details. [DNAinfo/Linze Rice]

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