Everyone is used to the typical fundraisers that tends to populate the weekends of spring — a gala including cocktails and light appetizers followed by an auction of some sorts.
Over the years, not-for-profits have gotten creative and added trivia nights or housewalks to bolster their missions. The Unity Temple Restoration Foundation (UTRF) has a new twist on the fundraising model and on April 9 is hosting a Vintage Home Show that promises to benefit homeowners as well as the UTRF.
While the event was held virtually in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this is the first time that Unity Temple can host the Vintage Home Show in person. Heidi Ruehle, executive director of UTRF, says the event fits in nicely with both Unity Temple and the broader community.
“Because of the very successful restoration that Unity Temple recently completed, and due to the fact that we’re lucky enough to have so many great professionals within our community, this kind of event makes sense here,” Ruehle said.
The event will include 20 vendors, from tile and paint restoration experts to custom door fabricators to experts on the financial side of buying and restoring historic and architecturally significant homes.
Ruehle said that initially she thought the event would appeal to people who own older homes, because there is a very specialized expertise needed for maintaining and restoring such housing stock. She quickly realized the advice and expertise of the vendors would benefit any homeowner or building owner.
“I noticed that people are always asking for referrals: ‘Who do I talk to for old plumbing issues, storm windows, etc.?’” Ruehle said. “A lot of people have a long list of projects and this event is a great way to get a start.”
Among the vendors is Hollice Childress, who calls himself a millworker with a focus on custom doors and windows. Childress states he can craft reproductions of just about any kind of millwork that you just can’t get at a big box store. His workshop is in the western suburbs, but he travels across the country creating doors and windows for clients.
When he was young, Childress says he spent time with his cabinet worker father and learned how to work with mortise-and-tenon joints on the framing. Later in life, he had a career as a mechanical designer, and he says that taught him how to reverse engineer designs.
He took his technological knowledge and applied it to his woodworking when he noticed there was a need in the marketplace for quality reproduction work.
“Instead of using a pencil and paper like they used to do, I just use modern technology,” Childress said. “I will see an issue on a computer screen before we start. It’s often easier to explain things to clients when you have an image.”
Also attending the show, is Tony Buttitta of Elite Tile Services. Buttitta specializes in historic tile restoration as well as new tile installation. Locally, he works with Oak Park’s Heritage Tile, which manufactures a historically accurate tile line produced in the same sizes and gauges as tile 100 years ago. New tile manufactured to old tile standards is a good fit for construction work in historic homes, according to Buttitta.
In Oak Park, Buttitta says he is often able to put his restoration skills to work, noting that he has methods for repairing existing historic tile that is cracked. If a tile or small section of original tile needs replacing, Buttitta can do that also, working from his stockpile of historic hexagon tile that he says was commonly used in Oak Park between 1880 and 1920.
He has worked with the Chicago Bungalow Association and says he’s happy to offer advice at the Vintage Home Show.
“I’ll give advice to anyone,” Buttitta said. “It’s important to me to salvage historic tile whenever possible.”
Jeff Ediger of Oak Brothers Historic Restoration will be another vendor at the show. With over 25 years of experience in restoration work, he says Oak Brothers restores interior architectural elements from wooden pieces, to doors, trim, fireplace surrounds and plaster.
“Homeowners don’t realize what they have,” Ediger said. “We can choose the most valuable element and focus on that. Sometimes it’s just thinking of a way to bring back some of the warmth of that wood without breaking the bank.”
He cites the case of an owner of a vintage condo with an elaborately plastered ceiling in the entry.
“They didn’t even realize what was under so many layers of paint,” he said.
Windows and doors are another key focus area. Ediger says original doors and windows are often so well incorporated into the architectural integrity of a home that they don’t stick out. Only when those subtle elements are replaced with modern replacements do homeowners realize that something is off.
Ediger says that the important aspect of his work is to help homeowners restore the beauty of their homes.
“To restore back to the original look or to enhance the original give you that foothold on beauty,” Ediger said.
Before you go
The Vintage Home Show will take place at the Unity Temple, 875 Lake St. in Oak Park, on Saturday, April 9 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. General Admission tickets cost $15 and can be purchased at utrf.org/event/homeshow.
Registered guests can attend seminars, visit vendor booths and ask experts their home renovation questions, as well as enjoy self-guided tours of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Unity Temple, part of a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Proceeds from the event benefit UTRF’s mission to preserve Unity Temple and educate the public about the significance of Frank Lloyd Wright’s contribution to modern architecture.
C&H Specialty Craft Works
Elite Tile Services, Inc.
Floor Coverings International-Oak Park
Graphic Conservation Company
Jill Warren Interior Design
Oak Park Bank
Oak Park Painters
Property Guidance Inspection, LLC
Renewal by Anderson
Surfaces by Pacific
Touches Toi Inc.
West Suburban Garage Doors