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BEYOND THE LISTING: Step into the past with a modern touch

The original wooden staircase in the Queen Anne Victorian home.
The original wooden staircase in the Queen Anne Victorian home.

Step into the three-story, 2,400-square-foot home at 1101 Illinois Ave. in Ottawa and that’s your first step into a time of sitting rooms, parlors and sunshine.

It’s a home that puts you in a different era and yet has a modern touch that would make it a welcome home for anyone today. Most people drive through neighborhoods, read newspaper listings and find a real estate agent to help in their hunt for a new home. Ottawa resident John Spampanato had a different approach and used it three years ago.

“I was almost led to this house,” John said. “When I moved from Marseilles, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted or what I was looking for. So, I spent a lot of time walking up and down the streets here in Ottawa, just to see what the neighborhoods were like. One day, I was passing 1101 Illinois Avenue when one of the neighbors came out and after talking awhile, said, ‘you should buy this house.’” “Well, I wasn’t sure. I knew nothing about the taxes or even the neighborhood,” John continued. “But I kept it in mind. A few weeks later, I passed the same house and a man came over and told me I should buy this house. He said it was a good neighborhood, one that I would probably fit into.

“People from the church across the street came over to talk to me, said they were praying I would buy the house. I decided to pursue it after that kind of reception,” he said with a smile. “So, after getting information on the taxes and other things, I moved in. I’ve never regretted it for a moment.”

The Queen Anne Victorian home was built in 1896. It has four bedrooms with hardwood floors, 1.5 baths, original wood floors throughout, a large walk-in pantry, separate dining room and cozy rooms that make it a beautiful and unique home.

One of those cozy rooms is what John calls his music room. With its sunny atmosphere and a piano and guitar nearby, it would be a peaceful place to enjoy a morning cup of coffee, which John says he does.

But what really catches the eye is the wide, original oak staircase that leads to the upper levels. With only a few steps to the first landing, a lovely stained glass window lets the sun shine through. John said the staircase came from a World’s Fair in the late 1800s.

Other features that would be hard to miss are the numerous stained glass windows, leaded glass doors, antique fireplace and all the original oak woodwork in almost every room.

The kitchen offers an eating space and a large walk-in pantry. There’s even a maid’s stairway in the kitchen. But John’s an artist and his favorite room in the home is the more modern, brick-enclosed front porch with light wood flooring and large windows all around. The inside entry to the porch includes two large wooden doors with leaded glass. And when you see John’s artwork spread throughout the room, it’s easy to understand why he often enjoys his morning coffee here too. He can view his many works in progress and the several small pencil drawings of characters on a small table next to a comfortable sofa.

“I do portraits, which probably wasn’t the easiest to start with,” John said. “I’m also a photographer. I’ve been to several places, including Ireland twice. I’m going to go back again this year so I’ve taken some wonderful photos from many places. But you know, it’s always nice to come back to this home, no matter where I’ve been.”

“I love sitting in this room with morning coffee,” John continued. “I like looking out into the neighborhood and it’s just really a great room. I’ve been very blessed in my life and this home is proof of my blessings.”

The full bath includes a claw foot bathtub. The heating is baseboard forced air. There’s a two-car garage next to trees in the backyard that provide shade – a nice view for anyone sitting on the side roofed porch.

What’s the best thing about living in this home? “It’s beautiful and exquisite,” John replied. “It’s a one-of-a-kind home. There’s so many good things about living here, including the neighborhood. I said earlier that I’ve been blessed and being able to call this my home is a very big blessing.”

John said he’s not sure of what his next life adventure will be. Besides being an artist and photographer, John’s past includes working at the Daily Times (now The Times) as a pressman. “Once I get back from Ireland, I’ll be deciding where I go next,” John said.

THE HOUSE at 1101 Illinois Ave., Ottawa, is priced at $139,900. The home is listed by agent Dee Barrera from Starved Rock Realty. For more information and to find out when the next open house will be scheduled call 815-667-9990 or the agent’s cell phone: 815-252-9696.

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