1866 Italianate – Towanda, IL

SOLD / Archived From 2011
Added to OHD on 6/2/11 - Last OHD Update: 11/23/17 - 68 Comments
1002 Towanda Barnes, Towanda, IL 61776
  • $149,900
  • Beds: 7
  • Baths: 3
  • Sqft: 5848
  • Acres: 5.6
  • Map: Aerial, Street
New description: This is a 7 bedroom, three story brick home. All fireplaces inoperable. Needs new well, septic, wiring, all plumbing, extensive brick-work. No HVAC in home (nor any duct-work, no wood walls for it, all brick). State of Illinois approval of restoration efforts REQUIRED. Old description: McLean County's famed Duncan Manor, boasts 7 bed's, 6 fireplaces, 11 ft ceilings on 1st and 2nd flrs, 10 ft ceilings on 3rd flr, 4 covered porches (including widow's walk), all original wood trimmings, including magnificent grand staircase in center of home, new wiring pulled, some plumbing already roughed-in, foundation tuck-pointed (in and out). The perfect bed and breakfast opportunity! Owner is lic. R.E. agent. CASH OFFERS ONLY! PRICE IS FIRM! All offers subject to approval by multiple 3rd parties
Sold By
Caroline Bird, Coldwell Banker      (309) 662-9333
Links
OHD does not represent this home. Property details must be independently verified.

68 Comments on 1866 Italianate – Towanda, IL

  1. This could really be something, if the right buyer came along. I’m sad about the details lost, but there’s still enough there to make it special.

    It also needs some SERIOUS landscaping! The lack of trees kind of freaks me out.




    1
    • I’m glad you said something about the lack of trees — something was making me feel a little anxious when looking at this house and that is totally it. It almost looks like Norman’s house behind the Bates Motel… yikes.




      0
  2. This is just an awesome house….although a little haunted looking – but I think that just adds to the charm and mystery of it. And with no landscaping to speak of, and that delapidated (?) barn next to it…sorry, but I just love this one!!!! Would be so cool to see it back to it’s glory state!




    2
    • Also, how cool is that to have all the history about this house…it just keeps getting better and better….




      0
      • I know, if it had trees, you couldn’t see it so well! That’s what I liked about it too. Although I’ve always wanted a tree lined drive way. If this was in the south, I would totally line it with apple or dogwood trees (both are my favorite.) πŸ™‚




        0
      • Just went passed this house today…all I can say is WOW!!! What property – but what a place…hopefully it won’t sit empty for too long – only drawback is – it’s right off of I-55 – but far enough away hopefully not to hear the traffic.




        0
        • It’s far enough back off of the main road that you really can’t hear any of the I-55 traffic. However, due to it’s interstate exposure, there are a LOT of travelers that leave the interstate just to drive past the other side of it. πŸ˜‰




          0
  3. I’m from Illinois, and went to Illinois State which is not too far from Towanda. It looks like farmer Duncan did VERY, VERY well for himself. Too bad the barn is in such bad shape. Thanks for posting.




    0
  4. I know the Italianates are supposed to be modeled after Italian country villas, but this place cries out for a more urban surrounding.




    0
    • The walls (even the interior walls) are all solid brick. In fact, they are FOUR BRICKS THICK (even the interiors). With the foundation completely re-done (brick for brick), and so much tuck-pointing done throughout the rest, I doubt that it will be going anywhere anytime soon. πŸ˜‰




      0
  5. Awesome that the exterior is almost unchanged from the original. I agree with everyone on the trees … plant some now! And the ghost … bring em on!




    0
  6. This house is said to have been sitting empty for decades, owned by an absentee owner who evidently just let it decay. County records for 2009 show it assessed at approx $61,000. Methinks someone looks to make much profit.




    0
    • Duncan Manor has sat vacant for a considerable amount of time. The current owner (seller) has put LOT of time, money, and work into it, during her short time with it (about three years). Most notably, the foundation (see comments above). I assure you that, she will not be profiting from this sale… …it is a “short-sale” after all. Proper restoration of a house of this type, construction, and size takes a lot of money.

      The saddest part of it’s extended vacancy (most of which was before the current owner acquired it), is the vandalism. Fortunately, there is a very strong following of local interest in the property, and the neighbors in the subdivision across the street keep a close eye on it. With such watchful eyes, and a state-of-the art alarm system, we seem to have brought the vandalism issues under control (thank goodness).

      There is a long way to go on the restoration, and it will be exciting to see new owners tackle the project! πŸ™‚




      0
  7. Are those chain walls in the basement? If so, that sucker will stand for centuries.




    0
  8. I read in the history of Duncan Manor that several people had been buried on the property but were later moved to Evergreen Cemetery…A three year old girl was never found or moved…she’s still buried there somewhere…I think it’s haunted and I imagine that’s why it’s up for sale again…IMO…




    0
    • The current owner actually allowed a crew of ghost hunters to spend the night one evening……. They left the next morning, very disappointed. To date, no previous owner or occupant has ever reported any strange experiences.




      1
  9. I live maybe 15 minutes from this house and my husband’s family lives in Towanda so we drive past every time we go out there. This property is gorgeous. We’d occasionally sneak in as teenagers because we also thought it was haunted. We never ran into any ghosts. πŸ™‚ Unfortunately other kids did not hold the same reverence for the house we did and it was highly vandalized. The house has changed hands several times since I was a kid. There was actually an article in our local paper this year about the newest owners (the current sellers) and their renovation efforts. Compared to the state it was in they have done amazing work. This house actually sparked my old house obsession. Small world that I’d stumble across this on this website! lol. The lack of trees is pretty common for our area. Everything that could be utilized as farm land was. When the corn is high it’s very difficult to see the house from the road. You’re in Illinois! Our landscaping is usually corn.




    1
    • Cool, thanks for commenting! It is sad that some teens (and probably some adults) vandalized it. I hope someone comes a long soon and buys it to restore. πŸ™‚




      0
  10. I have wanted this house for as long as i can remember… i would love to be able to buy it and refurbish it and put in some grand gardens!!!!




    0
  11. It’s an amazing looking house but I suspect it’s quite a money pit too. Yes, I agree it certainly fits the part of a Haunted House and the fact that the current owners are selling without finishing it makes me wonder why? I’ve renovated old houses before, back in the U.K and the expense was huge every time. It’s a labor of love to finish this house. I would love it, I would love to put down roots there. The details are sparing though. Does it come with the land? It looks pretty isolated~ is there a small Town nearby? I need to show this to my husband!




    0
    • There are almost six acres included. πŸ™‚

      The home is tecnically in Towanda, Illinois, even though it is only a matter of a few feet from being in side of the Bloomington-Normal limits. Bloomington and Normal are twin-cities, and Towanda is sort of a bedroom community of them. However, that is not to say that Towanda does not have a history of it’s own… It most certainly does, and the Towanda residents are also very proud to have Duncan Manor as a part of their community. Many of them, in fact, have helped with the Manor over the years.




      0
  12. Relisted at $250,000. Cash only and approval from multiple 3rd parties, sounds like buying this would take a miracle.




    0
  13. The video tour is creepy but interesting. There’s a great old pedestal tub in one of the bathrooms, and you get to see a view from one of the balconies in the front.




    0
  14. Just a quick side note… A couple of members of the local Barn Keepers group have told me that the original wood barn here is believed to be the oldest remaining barn in central Illinois. An interesting fact about the barn is that there are no nuts, bolts, screws, nails, etc…… It’s an old “peg barn”, and the wooden pegs have held it for 150 years! The “broken down” area is actually correctable, and was due to a beam fault because of rot from a roof leak, rather than a peg issue.

    I would love to see the barn restored with the house!




    0
    • Hi Nick, I assume you are the agent? Was the home officially sold or still pending sale?




      0
      • Yep, I am. πŸ˜‰

        It’s still pending. There has been a lot more involved in this particular short-sale transaction than we normally see, but we knew that would be the case. It could be quite a while before it closes (months). So, keep your eyes on it.




        0
  15. This house deserves to be returned to its original glory. I hope the right person buys it.




    0
  16. Just a quick update…

    The DuncanManor.org website has been updated. Many of the links were out of date, and most of the photos had not been posted to the site. Now, everything should be up-to-date, and there are more photos (including the infamous “double-rainbow” pic). Additionally, the video was moved to a different YouTube account, as I was consolidating my accounts. That being the case, there is a new link for it… http://youtu.be/oTfsJkjwAU8 . The old link will no longer work. However, the old one had nearly 7,000 views!!! Let’s see how many the new copy gets. πŸ™‚

    I’ll be providing updated sale information, when it’s available. The DuncanManor.org website will also be getting a LOT of “history” content in the coming weeks. Keep your eyes open!

    – Nick B.




    0
  17. I am intoxicated by this house. And its setting. I cannot ever recall such a grand house in the middle of a cornfield. It reminds me of the house in the movie GIANT, standing tall in the middle of an endless, flat landscape.

    Also, I love the relative simplicity of the interior. The tall ceilings. That staircase! The view from the second floor recessed porch (see video).

    I could live here.




    0
  18. Wonder what’s going on with this place. It was listed for sale again or at least the price was changed (increased) in November of 2013. In December the price was lowered again. Weird.




    0
    • According to Zillow the property was foreclosed on July 23, 2012- about the time of the price drop to “$250,000 Cash only” from the original July 2011 listing price of $449,900. According to Zillow: “This property was foreclosed and now the lender is selling it for $244,500.” It was relisted on 11/28/13- I am assuming by the entity that now has the house after foreclosure- and as of 2/7/14 is listed at the price of $244,500.

      The new listing is less than positive in its description: “All fireplaces inoperable. Needs new well, septic, wiring, all plumbing, extensive brick-work. No HVAC in home (nor any duct-work, no wood walls for it, all brick). State of Illinois approval of restoration efforts REQUIRED.”




      0
  19. It’s funny, I usually love trees and landscaping flora. If anything, I tend to overdo my plantings…but in contrast to many commenters, I actually find the house sitting proud and uncovered in the vista of it’s surroundings impressive and beautiful; maybe it reminds me of archival photos of Palladian Villas in Italy I’ve seen; for whatever reason, I find those top few exterior photos magnificent.




    0
  20. A pile of bricks unsold for years, unoccupied for maybe decades, and they’re still asking almost a quarter million. Greed and stubbornness condemns a lot of old homes.




    0
  21. About 2 years ago my wife and I were driving north up I55 through IL on our way home to WI. I saw a beautiful old house sitting alone out in the middle of nowhere and pointed it out to my wife. I commented how sad it was to see this,as from what I could tell it was abandoned.
    I found this OHD website just the other day, and while browsing the listings I see this house again! I dragged my wife over to the computer and asked if she recognized the house. She said “Isn’t that the house we saw in Illinois,on our way back from St. Louis?” HA! She does love these old houses as I do!
    A quick google search shows Towanda IL just north of Bloomington IL,right on I55 (just as I remembered it),so I suspect it is the same house. I hope somebody buys and saves this place!

    And yes,as a lot have noticed,no landscaping,just 3 stories of a gem sitting with 1000’s of acres of field around it.




    0
  22. I don’t really think it’s the lack of landscaping; it’s where it IS! This does not look like a farmhouse. This farm does not look like a plantation. The house looks like it belongs in a town somewhere. It looks like it’s been dropped there out of the sky and abandoned. And I don’t know if it’s just the way the last picture was taken (angled I mean), but that room truly makes me think of a prison. (And of course I am not imaginative at ALL!)




    0
  23. As I stated above, I could live in this house.

    I love the surreal setting. And I love the house. What a beauty she could be, again!




    0
  24. NOTE: what not readily obvious, a significant amount of money has been recently spent on the house.




    0
  25. I would love to own this home and restore it to its former glory. Maybe find a way to get a few more acres to enable me to expand the yard to really have an estate.




    0
  26. My fiance and I just purchased this home! We are anxious to get started on renovations. We were both instantly drawn to this property and became even more sure about it when we toured it with the realtor last month! We will be renovating the barn as well, I believe it is just as much a staple to this propertyas is the home. We are in the process of setting up a website so that anyone interested can follow the renovation progress!




    0
    • There is already a website dedicated to the Manor. We’ll be happy to put up anything that you’d like. Most folks drop by the site quite frequently, to check for updates and news. All of the Manor’s fans will be thrilled to watch your progress, as you project takes shape! πŸ™‚

      We can even re-activate the blog for you. No charge, of course… We are simply a group of dedicated Duncan Manor enthusiasts.

      You will also be interested to know that we have a LOT more photos and documents pertaining to the manor than we have posted on the site at the moment. We even had a photo-shoot with the last surviving family member of the Duncan Family! Many of these will be posted to the site soon.

      Thank you for your willingness to take on the restoration and preservation!

      – Nick Butzirus

      DuncanManor.info




      0
      • By the way… I should also have mentioned that we have been maintaining a “tour waiting list” for several years. We’ll be happy to organize “before” and “after” tours, whenever you’re ready. Hint, hint, hint. πŸ˜‰




        0
  27. Thnaks, Nick! We have been doing a little research, and we would love to get as much information about William and his family, in addition to the Manor itself. We love hearing about how dedicated the community is to this home and we just hope that we can do it justice!




    0
  28. First Congrats on your new purchase ! If you bought this for 149,900 You have gotten a great price ! It is an amazing structure and historical home in our area. I would love to hear more about the history of the past owners. Why was this grand home let to sit and rot ? How long has it been scents it was lived in ? I would love to see the progress of the project ! Is there a projected completion date ? Or maybe year ?




    0
  29. Yes, it was an AMAZING deal, considering that it was sold TWICE for $250,000 CASH. The previous owner’s lender felt that they could get more (they actually said that in an open conference call), so they rejected the short-sale bids and rushed the end of the foreclosure, only to get less than $150,000. Several of us (local experts) tried, repeatedly, to tell PNC (bank) that they would not get nearly as much for a “foreclosure” as they would from a “short-sale” on this one. The lender lost over $100,000 because they were greedy. Fools. And folks wonder why our banks are in trouble.

    As for the property just sitting over the years… This has been due to the incredibly expensive nature of the repairs, and astronomical cost of a TRUE restoration. Not to mention the skill sets that are required to handle a full restoration of this magnitude. So far, no one has ever had the money to complete the task(s). In fact, the project was even a major contributing factor in the break-up of a previous owner’s marriage, as was publicly stated. It’s not a project for the faint-of-heart, nor the light-of-wallet. Then, of course, there’s the little detail of ROI (return on investment)… To truly restore this magnificent home, one must resign to the “give back” mentality. Everyone in the area knows that a full restoration here, properly done, will cost far more than the home will ever fetch when sold. This is a project that is about giving back to the community, not profit. Sadly, that has held many folks back from bidding, over the years.

    This home is a “gem among gems” (with thanks to Linus, from the Peanuts)… Once it has been PROPERLY restored, it will out-shine everything else in the area, with the exceptions of the David Davis Mansion, and the Vrooman Mansion. However, it does have a significantly better location than the Vrooman (not that that can be helped by the fine folks that have done a spectacular job on restoring the Vrooman).

    So many of us that have been born and raised in the area are so eager to finally see a set of owners succeed with this project. The new owners seem to be ambitious, and committed… With the right combination of luck, determination, MONEY, and local support, we hope that it will work out for them. πŸ™‚

    And we all continue to watch and wait……..(fingers crossed)……..

    – Nick B.




    0
  30. I have to say, being one of the new owners, we are not made of “MONEY,” we just have a deep appreciation for historical buildings, and this one stole our heart. πŸ™‚ You can refer to us as young and crazy! This home is the rest of our lives, and we are putting our everything into it. The Duncan Manor is a peaceful, beautiful place, and we hope to give everyone a chance to experience the energy and the house itself. πŸ™‚ you can follow the restoration progress on instagram:@duncanmanor.




    0
  31. It’s wonderful to know that you have such a strong passion for the manor! This is so important for the success of any restoration project, and it looks like you are well on your way. πŸ™‚

    We are all very happy and excited for you, and we can’t wait to see what the future holds for your adventure! πŸ˜€

    – Nick B.




    0
  32. We are super passionate, and I see that you understand that passion, Nick! You are welcome to stop by for a visit anytime πŸ™‚




    0
  33. My sister and brother in law lived here in the early 80s for several years! I use to spend a lot of weekends with him and I can say that this house was spectacular. I have a lot of good memories of this old beauty and I wish someone would restore it…such a beautiful landmark!




    0
  34. Drive by this place twice a day and have to admire every time! Cograts and best wishes to Randi/Duncan Manor. There is a similar place on the west side of I55, does anyone know the history, is there a relationship between the two?




    0
    • I have been trying to find the house on the west side of I55 that you spoke of out of curiosity but I am not having any luck. I have looked on the satellite view on google maps and I can easily find Duncan Manor(which is awesome) but I do not see another house like it west of I55. Do you have any kind of address on it?




      0
  35. I was perusing the great homes of Illinois and so happy to catch up with this old beauty. I grew up on a Helen Craft farm off IL Rte 9, she had owned Duncan Manor in a family trust along with many other family properties she and her sister Marian had. My mother had a garden when I was a child and these two old women would stop by and collect groceries from my mother’s garden. So many fond memories, I dated a girl from Towanda while in high school at Normal Community. I also am a graduate of Illinois State.
    Duncan Manor was always a dream property of mine. Post college, lived in Los Angeles, outside of Philadelphia and now Charlotte the past 24 years, so it’s just a fond memory now. I remember stories Helen Craft would tell us however and some of the local lore.
    It’s so exciting to see on Instagram, the activities of the DM and new life being breathed into the estate. The lack of trees is so indicative of Craft farmhouses. They let the trees die and fall from ice storms never adding new trees upon their demise. The farm land was what generated their income and more farm land would encroach the residences. Ironically, our rent for 13 years of living on that property was $70/mo even up until 1978 when we moved to a new home in Normal, IL we built. Ms. Craft FINALLY insulated that farmhouse the winter of our move and because it was an oil heated home, thus she never charged much for rent.
    Way to go Duncan Manor. I’m going to make an effort to check into it more when I get to travel back to the area. My extended family still lives near Bloomington-Normal, but my brother and son and their families are now in the greater Chicagoland area.




    0
    • That is, indeed, awesome. Thanks, Joy!

      It is a wonder and thrill to see the house come so alive.

      Gives me hope for humanity.




      0

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*


Think before you type! Pretend the owner, the agent, your mom, your grandmother and the deity of your religion are standing in the room and what you are about to say you are saying to their face. Also, read the comment rules & disclaimer before commenting (updated 11/29/17).

Verizon.net Users: Verizon will not accept emails from OHD so you are unable to receive notifications.

All comments are moderated and do not appear public right away. OHD does not represent this home. Price and status must be independently verified. Do not rely on comments about the status or condition of the home. Contact the agent and see it in person.