South Carolina continued: A close-up view of the kitchen. The owner said he spent about $300,000 on renovating the former church, which is one of two castle-like buildings on the property. Originally featured as a House of the Day in May—.
If the holiday spirit has inspired you to do something meaningful, try taking on a community-wide project. Your work will benefit your whole neighborhood, and you might even boost your own home’s value with one of these six community-friendly ventures:
- Help keep the Grinch from stealing Christmas by starting a neighborhood watch. Launch your crime-fighting efforts with a holiday potluck dinner.
- Take your mind off the long, cold winter with thoughts of spring gardening. Planning and starting a community garden can bring the whole neighborhood together. Double your garden’s benefit by donating extra produce to a food bank.
- Coordinate your holiday shopping among a group of friends or neighbors and you could end up with enough new tools to start a tool-sharing co-op that lets everyone lend and borrow from a group of tools.
- It’s too late to start a Christmas tree recycling program this year, but you could definitely pull it off in time for next year.
- The foreclosure crisis has left families homeless, lowered the value of surrounding homes, and flummoxed federal efforts to resolve it. You can fight foreclosures as an individual or work at the community level to solve the problem.
- If you live in a neighborhood of older homes, getting your neighborhood an historic district designation gives future generations the gift of preserved history. A house within the borders of a historic district can gain thousands in value, so this project could benefit your personal bottom line as well as your neighbors’.
My mother loved to give to others all year long, but especially at Christmas. Having grown up on a rural Alabama farm during the Depression, she got a kick out of “giving” goats, chickens, and other farm animals to everyone on her Christmas gift list through a charity called Heifer International that helps you donate farm animals to needy families around the globe.
My mother also loved Habitat for Humanity. What do you think is the best holiday charity gift?
The right tools and pre-winter maintenance will ensure that your home and your family are safe and from cold-weather threats.
First, understand the threats
Blizzards. Storms with heavy winds and large amounts of snow accumulation can cause roof or other structural damage and leave you isolated.
Ice storms and ice dams. Ice storms coat structures, trees, power lines, cars, roads—and virtually everything else—with ice. As the ice melts, large chunks can fall and cause injury to anyone below. When ice melts during the day and then re-freezes at night, ice dams, which block water from flowing in the gutter, may form. This condition can force water back under the roof line and cause leaks.
Sleet or freezing rain. Combinations of snow and freezing rain may cause slippery conditions and coat roads, sidewalks, and driveways with ice when temperatures drop.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency recommends that home owners have shovels on hand, as well as melting agents, such as rock salt. Some of the new, more environmentally friendly deicers include calcium magnesium acetate and sand to improve traction. Be sure to stock up early in the season, as these agents tend to be in short supply during periods before a well-publicized storm.
FEMA also advises you have enough fuel to maintain heat in your home, as well as a backup heating source: firewood if the home has a working fireplace, or a generator to power heaters in case of power failure. However, use caution as these can represent fire hazards when not used correctly. Be sure to follow directions explicitly and keep a fire extinguisher. Some generators and fireplaces also require proper ventilation, according to the Institute for Business and Home Safety, so follow directions carefully and keep them away from curtains or other flammable items.
Stock up on extra blankets, warm clothing, and enough food and water to sustain your family in case of a few days of isolation. And a transistor radio with fresh batteries can help keep you updated on news and information in case of a power outage.
Protect your home
Before winter, there are some precautions you can take to protect your home from the ravages of cold weather storms:
Winterize your home. Check shutters, siding, and other exterior materials to ensure they’re secure, says retired contractor and home improvement expert and writer John Wilder of Jacksonville, Fla. High winds, ice, and moisture from winter storms can easily strip off such outside elements if they’re loose.
Be sure that gutters are clear of debris and that walkways are even and don’t represent tripping hazards that can be exacerbated with snow or ice. Caulk drafty windows and apply weather stripping to doors—both inexpensive strategies that can keep heat in your home. Air sealing can help you save about $350 in energy costs or one-third of your average annual heating and cooling costs. The average annual home energy bill is about $2,200, according to Energy Star, of which about $1,000 represents heating and cooling. An assortment of air sealing materials and tools, including silicone foam, caulk, aluminum flashing for flues, and additional insulation, will run roughly $100-$350.
Watch your roof. Consider roof heating cables to prevent ice dams on roofs and in gutters, Wilder recommends. They emit a low level of electric-powered heat and prevent ice from blocking gutters and downspouts. These cables can also help melt snow as it falls and help prevent it from accumulating on your roof, where its weight may cause damage.
The cable costs approximately $50-$100 for a 65 to 100 ft. package and can be purchased online or at home improvement retailers. Well-ventilated attics, which release warm air and melt ice, can reduce the risk of ice dams as well, according to the Institute.
Winterize pipes. Be sure your pipes, especially those exposed or in unheated areas like crawl spaces, are wrapped in insulation to prevent freezing and bursting. Also, learn where your water shut-off valves are so you can turn off the water supply in case of a leak. Six feet of insulation can cost anywhere from $7 to $17; it’s available at most home improvement stores.
Trim tree branches. Branches that overhang roofs or areas where you park your car—or which are simply overgrown—represent a risk to structures, vehicles, and people. Keep trees trimmed and remove those that are weak or sickly to prevent them from falling on or near your home. Tree trimming and removal pricing varies greatly, and you may have additional restrictions if you live in an historic community or if the trees are close to power lines.
Check with your municipality about any regulations and contact your local Chamber of Commerce, municipal offices, or contractor rating sites like MerchantCircle.com or AngiesList.com to get the names of reputable pros. Tree trimming and removal can be dangerous, so don’t attempt it on your own unless you’re experienced.
By keeping your home in good repair and stocking up on the supplies you’ll need before the rush for rock salt and shovels begins, you’ll be as ready as possible to tough out the storm.
First Friday is the Old Town School’s monthly night of music, dance, and community. Bring your instrument, your voice, dancing shoes, a date, your family, or a few friends. The bar is open, and we welcome the public to participate in many ways!
Join a jam, sample class, or, for beginners, we have an open rhythm circle with instruments provided, performances, and square dances with live bands.
Admission is $5 for individuals and $10 for families, and activities happen on the West side of the street, at 4544 North Lincoln Avenue. The first event, a family jam called the Gather-All, begins at 6:00 PM.
Old Town School of Folk Music
The real estate market is gaining stability more and more. Instead of the traditional cycle of moving: sell your home, buy a new home and close both on the same day, we have a new model. Many would be sellers moved into rental properties when their needs changed, and rented out their homes. Money is still very affordable, and good inventory is not lasting long on the market. A lot of buyers are now making their way back into the real estate market, and the inventory isn’t keeping up with demand.
Due to the pace of the buying market, many sellers are making plans to sell well in advance of going on the market. They want to be prepared to put their home on the market, but they do not want to have to move out of their home before they have a new place to live. This creates a market of pocket listings; listings that are not yet actively on the market.
This year 60% of the buyers I worked with bought homes before they came to market. By consistently networking with other agents, I have been able to ‘first look’ for many of the buyers I helped find a new home.
Does this mean a pocket listing sells for less than market value? No. There has been a lot movement in the market which provides good data points for comparable sales. A savvy seller will not consider taking less than the open market would bear. In several instances, my clients have had to compete with other offers on homes that were not yet listed.
Call me to work with a well connected Realtor with strong relationships in the brokerage community!
Take a look at the most common things that can go wrong when you have guests and learn how to prevent them.
That’s just one of many hosting nightmares that can end your holiday party before it even begins. Thankfully, some of the most damaging mishaps easily can be avoided. We collected five of the most prevalent issues and give you preventative tips to keep your holiday party on track.
Problem: The oven doesn’t heat
For any holiday occasion, the oven is the most important appliance in your house. If it fails to work, the centerpiece of your meal could go from roasted beef, ham, duck, or Tofurky to Peking Duck from the local Chinese takeout joint.
How to avoid:
- There are any number of reasons a stove can break, but one common cause of disaster is easy to prevent. Don’t self-clean your oven until AFTER the holidays. You risk blowing a fuse or a thermostat, and tracking down an oven technician around the holidays can be tough.
Problem: The kitchen sink clogs
The day after Thanksgiving is the busiest of the year for plumbers. The prime cause of this clog-a-thon is the mistreatment of drains when cooking holiday feasts. We hope your Thanksgiving went well, and that you avoid clog-a-thons for the rest of the holidays.
How to avoid:
- Fats and cooking oils can solidify in your pipes, so never dispose of them in your kitchen sink.
- If you have a garbage disposal, make sure it’s running before anything goes in it, and never feed it any stringy, fibrous, or starchy foods like poultry skins or potato peels.
- To fix, don’t rely on chemical drain-clearing products that can harm your pipes. Use a snake instead, available for $15 at your local hardware store. Best to keep one on hand.
Problem: The heat goes out
As the party’s host, you’re supposed to hang guests’ coats—not apologize to them for having to keep them on. A lack of heat can stop a holiday party dead in its tracks.
How to avoid:
- The key to avoiding freezing your party to a standstill is regular maintenance of your HVAC. Every 90 days, a new one-inch pleated furnace filter should be installed. If you haven’t done it in a while, now’s a good time to replace it.
- Also inspect insulation on refrigerant lines that are leading into your house. Replace them if they’re missing or damaged.
Problem: The toilet stops up
Toilets have a way of clogging up at the worst times, such as during parties and when you have overnight guests. This is especially true if you have a low-flow toilet from the early 1990s.
How to avoid:
- Don’t flush anything other than sewage and toilet paper down the toilet. And there’s nothing wrong with putting up a polite note to remind your guests to do the same.
Problem: The fridge doesn’t cool
Without a properly functioning refrigerator, your meat could get contaminated, your dairy-based treats could go sour, and you may not be able to save your yummy leftovers. To avoid discovering a warm fridge after it’s too late, take these simple precautions.
How to avoid:
- Get a thermometer for your refrigerator to make sure each shelf stays below 40 degrees and you can be aware of any temperature changes.
- Also make sure the condenser coils located on the back of the unit or beneath it are free to breathe. Coils blocked from circulating air by cereal boxes atop the fridge, or dirtied by dust or pet hair can prevent a fridge from keeping cool.
Michele Smith, 43rd Ward Alderman, released a message this week that Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that funding for a new addition to Abraham Lincoln Elementary School has been received. This addition will not only eliminate the current overcrowding at the school but will also anticipate the growing needs of our community.
The new addition will be built on the site of the current Lincoln Elementary School. It will accommodate approximately 500 additional children and keep all grades at Lincoln Elementary under one roof, unified. The additional space will allow Lincoln Elementary to offer planned pre-K programming, full day kindergarten and to provide adequate facilities for its full range of educational programming. The current building will also receive significant upgrades. The entire community will benefit from this addition as well, as the design anticipates space for community use when school is not in session.
CPS has provided conceptual plans which you can view on Alderman Smith’s website. However, these plans are subject to change as we review them further and receive input from parents. Some key parts of the plan:
- The addition is on the current site, allowing all grades to be in one building;
- A new ground level playground will be built;
- A new open-air play level will be built on the roof, with plenty of space for soccer and basketball. Best-practices designs such as those incorporated at the British School and Catherine Cook School will be incorporated;
- Nineteen new classrooms will be built, allowing for the full educational program of Lincoln Elementary to thrive, including the IG (International Gifted) program, EFAC (Ecole Franco-Americaine de Chicago), ESL (English as a Second Language) and band;
- A new lunchroom/multipurpose room will be built in the annex, providing modern space for dining and flexibility to use the space for gym, recess, and other activities for younger students;
- Electrical upgrades to the existing 1874-era building will allow for window AC units to be installed;
- The entire school will be ADA-compliant with the installation of an elevator that can stop at all of the many levels of the old school.
This dream could not have come true without the passionate commitment of Lincoln Elementary parents and community members. Over 1,300 Lincoln parents and community members wrote, called, e-mailed, met, and testified in support of expanding Lincoln Elementary. The Lincoln Local School Council engaged in a rigorous analysis of the various options to handle the overcrowding which guided our decision-making. Ward residents contacted our office with a variety of solutions. The enormous amount of input that we received is what allowed us to make an informed decision and vet all of our options accurately before arriving at this solution.
I want to thank Mayor Emanuel, Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett, and all the elected officials who listened to our community over the past two years, and who helped us to find the money from other existing state revenues that resulted in several schools receiving funding. Thank you as well to DePaul University, who offered space in their new College of Education Building to help ease the overcrowding this year.
This is a victory for all the children in Lincoln Park and Old Town. Our schools are the foundation of our neighborhood and the reason why people choose to live here. The new addition to Lincoln Elementary ensures that it will remain, along with elementary schools Alcott, Oscar Mayer, Newberry, and LaSalle, and Lincoln Park High School, a place where children receive a top-notch public education right in their own neighborhood.
There will be further planning meetings as plans for the school are finalized. CPS is hoping to have the addition for school opening in Fall, 2015 – just one full school year away. In the meantime, we’ll be continuing our work to find a temporary solution to the overcrowding for one more year.
From: Landmarks Illinois
|Statewide Endangered2013 TEN MOST ENDANGERED HISTORIC PLACES|
|Chicago Bascule Bridges
(Cook County)With more moveable bridges than any other city in the world, Chicago is known for these iconic structures along its many waterways. Bascule bridges, the most common moveable bridge in Chicago, are still in operation. But many bascules, such as the Chicago Avenue Bridge(622 W. Chicago) and Division Street Bridges (829 W. Division and1129 W. Division) are no longer operable and are due to be replaced in upcoming years with new wider, fixed bridges. Other bascules, while not planned for replacement, are deteriorating due to the lack of capital repair funds.
The Art Deco-style North Ashland Avenue Bridge, built in 1936, has numerous repair needs and has been in a deteriorated state for many years. The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) is preparing a Chicago Bascule Bridge Preservation Plan that will outline a future for these iconic structures. While the replacement of some bridges may be necessary, the opportunity to rehabilitate and reuse others, as well as to salvage significant components such as bridge houses, should be considered.
Some Chicago bascule bridges, such as the Wells Street Bridge (1922), are receiving major rehabilitations. However CDOT officials state that in the case of the Chicago Avenue Bridge and Division Avenue Bridges, their existing structure roadway widths can no longer accommodate current vehicle traffic volumes, with dangerous bottlenecks occurring at the approach points to the bridges. This safety concern, in addition to their deteriorated state and the need to increase vertical clearance under them, has made these bridges a priority for replacement.
The Chicago Art Deco Society has been advocating for the North Ashland Avenue Bridge’s rehabilitation for several years and has formally requested that the Commission on Chicago Landmarks evaluate it as a potential Chicago Landmark. Their outreach to CDOT officials resulted in the removal of some vegetation and graffiti in late 2010, but major repairs are still needed.
For more information on the Chicago Art Deco Society’s (CADS) efforts on the North Ashland Avenue Bridge, contact CADS Preservation Committee Chair Amy Keller. For information on the public review process for the Chicago Avenue Bridge and Division Avenue Bridges, contact Lisa DiChiera, Director of Advocacy, Landmarks Illinois.