HOME » online historical archives » news clipping month index » April, 1954 »

[month index] [previous] [next]

Newspaper Clippings for
April, 1954

Waukegan News-Sun2 April 1954
One Time Millburn Show Place
Is Brought Back to Former Glory.
By George Rinehart
MILLBURN - Two years ago last September, Philip H. Anderson, chief of the disposition unit at the Veterans Administration Hospital, Downey, stood facing what was once the well-kept lawn of the Robert Strang homestead in this village.
Across the weeds and briars he saw what was once a mansion which commanded the respect of the village and the farm area for miles around.
Now it was anything but the show place it once was. The porches had rotted away, windows were broken, cobwebs covered the windows and hung from the ceilings, and dust covered the lattice shutters, the woodwork and floors. The interior would have made an excellent setting for a Hollywood haunted house movie.
Anderson saw this as a challenge in the way of restoration. From Victor Strang, Beach Rd., a great grandson of the original owner, he purchased the five-acre estate and began the tedious job of reconstruction.
The building itself was well constructed. Robert Strang, a farmer had brick hauled from Milwaukee, Wis. To provide the solid masonry for the 40x40 foot structure, which contained 12 rooms and four bathrooms.
There is a basement beneath the entire structure and the attic with its look-out cupola, typical of the early day, is so large that Anderson has his TV aerial in it.
The lower floor has its large kitchen where a huge coal stove provided both heat for cooking and radiation. Off the kitchen toward the front of the house is a tea room as large as the present day dining room. The Strangs were of English-Scotch descent, and the tea room was their favorite gathering place in mid-afternoons.
Anderson has furnished the tea room with 19th century chairs and table. A chandelier that once hung in the North Prairie Church hangs over the table. It has a central filling oil receptacle from which the oil drained to the cluster of lamps surround it. It is now lighted electrically.
The tea room and the dining room are separated by a butler's pantry, which has a sliding door at the shelf from which the dining room is served.
Over the long oak dining table hands a chandelier which Mr. Anderson's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Richard Anderson, brought from Sweden. The chandelier is of wrought iron with holders for candles below which, prisms dangle. In the center is a pot for flowers. Electric dangles now replace the tallow ones that were used back in Sweden.
Resembling a fire place at first glance is a writing desk, a replica of a castle on the Rhine river in Germany. It was made in Gothenburg, German, and brought to the country and placed in the German house at the time of the 1893 World's Exposition in Chicago. Anderson got it from an antique dealer in Wheeling and now finds it a decorative article for the large dining room.
From the dining room won crosses a large hallway which may be entered from the vestibule of the front doorway. From this hallway a semi-circular stairway takes one to the second floor where there are six bedrooms, two of them for servants, and two bathrooms.
Off the hallway at the first floor level there is also a bathroom which had a metal bath tub when Anderson purchased the place. Other bathrooms had merely the lavatory.
Off the hallway opposite the dining room is the parlor with its wood shutters to regulate the light, and from the parlor an open way, shut off at times by drapes, leads to the music room. Doors from the music room open either into a rear room or into a guest bedroom chamber.
Between the guest room and the kitchen is the second bathroom of the lower floor.
The 10 1/2 foot ceilings, the wood molding add to the spaciousness and grandure of the house of that period. The chimneys were constructed in the exterior corners so that outlets could be obtained form one chimney for two rooms.
All rooms except bedrooms had coal stoves, and one or two of these stoves, long, low iron pieces, were found among the trash left in the basement, according to Anderson.
There were five children in the Strang family, none of whom are living, Anderson said. One of them became a merchant. A day book left in the basement of the house is quite legible and tells of the purchases made by local citizens and the price which they paid for each article obtained on credit.
Anderson, who lives alone in the large house is assisted in its upkeep by hired help, and gets much satisfaction from the manner in which he has outfitted it. He entertains at large dinner parties and enjoys escorting visitors through the house.
[month index] [previous] [next]