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BEYOND THE LISTING: Owning up to Ottawa home — for 57 years

South Side house has had just 2 owners in more than a century

One block south of the Illinois River bluff, ownership of one 2,400-square-foot home is up for the first time in nearly 60 years.

Owned by Daphne Mitchell and her husband, John Cunningham, the two-story house at 303 E. Prospect Ave. is on the market.

Letting go of the home is not easy for Mitchell, who has lived there much of her life.

“I have mixed feelings. I grew up here, my family lived here, I live here, (and) I love the area and the neighborhood and the people,” she said.

The asking price for the corner-lot, four-bedroom, two-bathroom home on a dead-end street is $243,000. It was built in the late 1800s, and Mitchell said only two families have owned the house since at least 1920.

“It’s a great family house and great neighborhood for kids," Mitchell said. “People who move here stay here. We’re going to miss the people who live here.”

Director of surgical services for a Chicago hospital, Mitchell lives in a Windy City condominium five days a week and returns home on weekends. Cunningham is retired from the construction industry and works at a local golf club pro shop.

Living full time in Chicago is their plan. With Mitchell eyeing retirement, selling the home is a matter of practicality.

"It’s a big house for the two of us. We have a lot going on. As we move toward retirement, we need to simplify,” Mitchell said.

Situated on a 1.98-acre lot, the house includes a kitchen with ceramic tile and fairly new cabinets. Also new are a washer and dryer, storm doors and windows and a roof replaced a few years ago. One bedroom features new drywall and plaster. The lot has two new fences on its east side.

Behind the house is a two-car garage, facing First Avenue, that once was a barn. The former hay loft long ago was converted into a room used years ago by Alexander Konetzki, Mitchell’s son, as a band rehearsal room. It’s remodeled and heated.

A dog run and two sheds are next to the garage, and a backyard features statuary, a picnic table, a trellis over a brick walkway and native plants.

Before the house became the Mitchell home, it was owned by Otis M. and Anna Bach; Mitchell estimates the Bachs bought the house in 1910. Otis M. Bach worked at Ottawa First Federal Savings Bank, where he was succeeded by two of his sons.

The Mitchells bought the house in 1962. Daphne Mitchell grew up next door at 315 E. Prospect Ave. before moving to 303.

“The Bachs really wanted my parents to have the house because they knew they would take good care of it,” she said.

Daphne’s parents were XW, who built Ottawa’s first cable TV system and managed the Roxy theater, and Poppy Mitchell, who worked at the La Salle County courthouse and in 1964 ran for Congress as a Democrat. She lost to Republican Charlotte Thompson Reid.

For many years, the house at 303 E. Prospect Ave. included a separate apartment and private entrance. Otis Bach Jr. and his wife, Helen, lived there 18 years before buying another house on Prospect Avenue.

Remodeling has since made the apartment part of the house. Cunningham and Daphne Mitchell have lived there since 2000. XW and Poppy Mitchell lived there until their deaths. Mitchell’s late grandmother, Eleni Paleologos, also lived there.

“It’s a terrific neighborhood. It’s a great location — quiet and with good neighbors,” Cunningham said.

• THE HOME on East Prospect Avenue in Ottawa is listed for $243,000. For more information, contact Realtor Katie Troccoli, of Washington Square Realtors, at 815-434-3630.

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