c. 1870 – Ottawa, IL

Added to OHD on 1/27/16   -   Last OHD Update: 4/12/20   -   30 Comments
SOLD / Archived Post
Are you the new owner? Comment below, we'd love to say hi!

805 W Madison St, Ottawa, IL 61350

  • $100,000
  • 4 Bed
  • 3.5 Bath
  • 5995 Sq Ft
  • 0.78 Ac.
Mansion on Ottawa's West side. Originally constructed by Silas Cheever around 1870. In 1939 Norman Hulse purchased the home and turned it into the Hulse Funeral Home. Home has 6 marble fireplaces. Possible 6 bedrooms, 3.1 bath. Lot size .82. 2 car detached garage. Needs renovation. Selling "as is". All dimensions are approximate.
Contact Information
Tina Sergenti, Coldwell Banker,
(815) 433-5501

State: | Region: | Associated Styles or Type:
Period & Associated Styles: , | Misc: ,

29 Comments on c. 1870 – Ottawa, IL

OHD does not represent this home. Comments are not monitored by the agent. Status, price and other details may not be current, verify using the listing links up top. Contact the agent if you are interested in this home.
  1. Kelly, OHDKelly, OHD says: 11877 comments

    1901 Folk Victorian
    Chestatee, GA

    Thanks to John Shiflet for sharing this in the last link exchange post. And Eric for finding the old photo of the home.

    • RossRoss says: 2481 comments
      OHD Supporter

      1894 QueenAnneFreeClassic
      Emporia, KS

      Oh baby! I am just itchin’ to get my hands on this could-be-a-beauty-again!

      I want to lance the porch, recreate the original, and that incredible curvaceous gable!!!!!

      Thanks John, Eric, and Kelly!

  2. Jeff says: 2 comments

    Great 1st floor rooms! Scale, details, really interesting. Yes, it could be a wonderful house $$$$$

  3. John Shiflet says: 5429 comments

    Thanks for reposting, Kelly. I still have a problem with the asking price as the property is assessed for less than $45,000 for tax purposes. Maybe the value is in the large lot. As for the house, it’s still savable and with a lot of work could be brought back to a semblance of its original appearance. However, there’s evidence of water damage and infiltration that will only worsen with time. If not addressed in a few years, the house may be too far gone to save at any price. Note the unusual pocket doors…are those small porthole glass inserts seen in one of them? (I’ve never seen one like it before) Note to sellers: if you could clean up the debris inside, take a good photo of the period staircase and newel post, and maybe a close up of the best period mantel or pocket doors detail that might appeal to old house lovers, you could probably come closer to your asking price than with the current debris-strewn appearance. I know, mind my own business, but I hate to see a local historic landmark lost which otherwise might be saved and restored.

    • JimHJimH says: 5006 comments
      OHD Supporter

      I agree, John. The owner died in 1994 and her estate made some money renting the place before tenants complained about conditions and the city shut it down. The sickening details:

      That was 7 years ago and the neglect has continued. The city prevailed upon the heir to list it for sale last year, but it took 4 months and they couldn’t even sweep the place up. Pathetic.

      • Evan says: 1127 comments

        I live in a small town in Oregon. It has what could be a charming downtown except for this same problem. Property owners (many NOT living in the area) completely unconcerned apparently that the historic buildings are rotting and falling down. We also have a few very lovely areas of historic homes. The city does nothing to encourage protecting these areas. Instead they make questionable decisions about traffic patterns leading, I believe, to degradation of the neighborhoods. The most important thing is keeping Walmart happy on the far south end of town. If people have no respect for the historic nature of homes and other buildings, you’re fighting an uphill battle.

        • Daughter of GeorgeDaughter of George says: 1024 comments
          OHD Supporter

          1905 Neoclassic & 1937 Deco

          Evan, unfortunately it’s so true that cities often make decisions to the detriment of historic preservation. That was the case in a large SC city where services for homeless and addicted men were relocated right in a historic downtown neighborhood.

        • Kathy Nelson says: 3 comments

          Where in Oregon do u live I’ve been looking for older homes with at least 5 bedroom 2 baths+ large yard and garage on Craigslist but can’t find any . My husband and I are retired and want someplace for our grandchildren to come and stay. Please text me if you can let. ***. Kathy Nelson

          (admin edit: I don’t suggest posting your cell number.)

    • Daughter of GeorgeDaughter of George says: 1024 comments
      OHD Supporter

      1905 Neoclassic & 1937 Deco

      John, thank you for addressing something I have always wondered — why real estate agents, if not the sellers, don’t put forth the effort to make photos more appealing and presentable. I’m not talking staging — just shifting boxes and clutter out of camera range, emptying an overflowing trashcan. Who wants to see the seller’s laundry piled high, dirty dishes in the sink, grooming supplies all over the shower? And certainly in a case like this house, sweeping up debris can’t hurt.

      • John Shiflet says: 5429 comments

        I assume you’ve read the other comments about this once opulent home. It’s coming to market just as its reaching the going…going…almost gone stage of neglect. Photos not showing the details that old house lovers would like to see are among the least of problems here. As Paul W. suggests, unless there’s active support ($$$$) from local/city or state government, the likelihood someone would step in to save this house is remote at best. Of course, as a general statement about old houses on the market, your suggestions about photos and appearance are quite valid. It appears that during the days when tenants inhabited this house the interior was even worse. Seldom have I witnessed so many negatives being leveled against an old house as this poor survivor. Perhaps the only things left out are claims of malevolent ghosts. I did have a lightbulb moment that perhaps a movie company could use the place as a (horror movie?) set and then donate some money towards its restoration. Alternately, invite one of the TV show paranormal research teams to investigate it for possible paranormal activity. Who knows; with enough widespread publicity it might bring forth an improbable buyer who would actually be able to save this long neglected mansion. Miracles do sometimes happen.

      • says: 12 comments

        I’ve always wondered the same. Why not make that little extra effort to make the place more appealing and presentable. As you said, not staging – just doing the obvious. I’d love a job doing that or the ability to jump through the computer screen and sweep or just move things LOL! I see so many simple things that could be done…

        • Kelly, OHDKelly, OHD says: 11877 comments

          1901 Folk Victorian
          Chestatee, GA

          I can see in houses that people currently live in. But this one, there are holes in the ceiling, plaster falling off, peeling paint. I don’t think sweeping up or moving things around would improve the listing photos.

          But I do agree on other listings, closing open toilets or washing the dishes, taking out the trash, hanging some clothes, isn’t always a bad thing. 🙂

    • says: 12 comments

      I couldn’t agree more!!

  4. John Shiflet says: 5429 comments

    Thanks Jim. Most disturbing in the article was: “In September 2007, tenants at the former two-story Hulse Funeral Home at 805 W. Madison St. complained to the city about mold inside and people becoming sick.” And regrettably, it apparently got worse as the article continued on. At this point, I feel the sellers will be challenged to sell this place at almost any price. Mold can be remediated but that just adds another layer of cost on what will already be an expensive rehab. I now somewhat regret sharing this listing but at the time I was focusing on the unique features of the house more than its condition. It will take a preservation miracle to save this one. (no matter what it sells for) Sad.

    • Paul W says: 471 comments

      Doing a little further research, The city is involved, I suspect there is now a city lien against the property (clean up and removal of a ‘wing” which may explain the high asking. Note the freshly plowed areas by the garage.

      Looks like an impossible to work with seller here, city liens, extensive city ‘orders and condemn action’. And if there was an embalming facility on site (references made to formaldehyde in one of the articles), expect the state EPA to be involved.

      Anyone even remotely considering this house need to have an attorney,and contact the city to see what expectations are here. Otherwise you are headed for misery. This is not the kind of project that you are going to be able to leisurely do on weekends but rather a hire the contractors and start writing checks situation. The city seems to be at the end of their rope with this owner. You are likely not going to be able to get a loan until after you have addressed some serious issues so you will need some up front monies just to get started.

      Remarkable house with remarkable woodwork and ANYTHING can be saved but thinking about what it would take? You need to be Oprah Winfrey and want another ‘weekend place’. Porch reconstruction, adding back period exterior details, stucco removal (no clue what water logged mess is behind that). Lead paint and Mold remediation will be mandated, plus it will need modern mechanicals and the cost of removal all of the improperly run bathrooms and such.

      I’d try to negotiate with the city about a lien abatement, maybe a tax abatement and see if there are any State grants, even if you could do all that and get the price down to 50K, the restoration costs are not cheap here. You will be spending a lot of money in legal fees, the city will want everything done by the book and that means contractors and all the EPA regs.

      I have restored seriously endangered homes and 20hrs a week are spend dealing with city officials all trying to “micromanage” your project.

      This is not a project for the faint of heart of limited in pocketbook.
      This one will need that one in a million (maybe with a million stashed away) buyer.

      Hope someone saves it.

      • RossRoss says: 2481 comments
        OHD Supporter

        1894 QueenAnneFreeClassic
        Emporia, KS


        Everything you wrote might prove true.

        Or it might not.

        The city might be THRILLED to have a new owner, particularly an owner who seems to have the experience and resources to take on such a project. As such, the city might bend over backwards to be helpful.

        When I purchased a big old house which had been a problem for a long time, I was given DIRE warnings about how awful the city would be.

        The opposite proved true. The city has been nothing but gracious and helpful.

        • lara janelara jane says: 490 comments
          OHD Supporter

          I’m so glad to not be the (only) resident idealist! I can always count on you, Ross, to share my “rose-colored, best-case-scenario, why-not?” worldview! (no sarcasm implied or intended!)

        • CoraCora says: 2055 comments
          OHD Supporter & Moderator

          Clinton, TN

          E-Town does get a bad rap, but I don’t really know why. I always thought it was a nice place. Small but not too small, with lots of diversity. There’s no place like home!

          I’m sure the community is thrilled to have you there to save the Cross House. 🙂 Wish I was still there to see it transform!

  5. Daughter of GeorgeDaughter of George says: 1024 comments
    OHD Supporter

    1905 Neoclassic & 1937 Deco

    This house is extraordinarily beautiful. The interiors are stunning — and so is the level of rehabilitation that is needed. I think the price is too high. That said, I hope someone buys it and restores it to its full glory.

  6. Mark says: 17 comments

    I have the vision and the know how from experience but alas the deep pockets have holes in them. I too hope it will be saved and restored.

  7. EyesOnYou1959EyesOnYou1959 says: 279 comments
    Lincoln, NE

    It is such a shame they let this grand, old home go to pot like this. I
    would really love to see what it looked like when it was first built!

  8. Rainy says: 2 comments

    Oh dear! So sad! This was a beautiful house.

  9. Michaeljoe62 says: 100 comments

    What a lovely, gracious, grand home it once was. Such a shame – and so many have gone this path. The antique photo of the home is fascinating. I know it’s not at all likely, but what an achievement it would be to replicate that facade instead of the Gone With The Wind redo it received years ago. But there are bigger fish to fry here than that, unfortunately. I also wish there were some shots of the staircase…duh!

  10. Laurie W. says: 1746 comments

    A sad situation for such a once-beautiful place. From the outside, I wasn’t expecting to like its interior, but wow, it’s stunning, or was. It’s a real sin to have left it in the state the article describes, immoral, to my mind. In addition to all the problems mentioned, there is also asbestos to be removed. It would be a big undertaking (sorry, couldn’t help it) but if the city cooperated, the chances are increased of a restored beauty.

  11. Diane says: 552 comments

    Ottawa IL is a lovely town in a beautiful part of the State with many historic factors in the area. The town understands making the best of their area, preservation and historical value. A potential buyer would find them willing to understand a serious buyer’s needs. I doubt they would be willing to cooperate with someone not knowledgable or wealthy enough to take this out of the mess it’s in and the current owner’s issues. It’s close enough to Chicago to travel back and forth by train or interstate. There is no down side to this area of Illinois for retirement, a young family or weekend get away. No, I’m not from there but I live close enough to understand the area and recommend. I’m guessing someone needs to step up quickly with solutions and proven cash resources or this home will be surrendered to the wreaking ball. As for the sliding door windows – research might prove a link to a shipping family in the original construction – this area has that in it’s history.

  12. Janet says: 29 comments

    It is a beautiful old home and it certainly sad to see it consumed with neglect. I’m not sure that I would feel comfortable living in a former funeral home!

  13. Kelly, OHDKelly, OHD says: 11877 comments

    1901 Folk Victorian
    Chestatee, GA

    Finally sold for $80,000.

  14. John Shiflet says: 5429 comments

    Considering all of house’s condition issues, selling for $80K sounds about right, or perhaps even a little generous. I hope the buyers have restoration or renovation in mind rather than as a teardown.

Comment Here

Think before you type! Keep comments a friendly place for each other, owners and agents.
Comments that do not add value to the conversation in a positive manner will not be approved.

Click here to read the comment rules, updated 1/12/20.
Commenting means you've read and will abide by the comment rules.

OHD does not represent this home. Price, status and other details must be independently verified. Do not call the agent unless you are interested in the property.