Evans Road in Magnolia (close to Toluca and Wenona) is a short one. Take about a 45-mile drive south and west of Ottawa and you'll see a large red cedar wood-sided barn home at 2558 Evans Road.
The unique house is a newly constructed barn home with 100-plus-year-old hand-hewn beams. The owners found the barn in Scotland, Canada and had it transported to their almost 12 acres of historic property.
The Clanins have always lived in the area. Debbie grew up in Wenona; Steve was raised in Toluca. A big connection for them is their love of history. The beautiful barn home they've lived in for 10 years is proof of that. The property was the big attraction for Steve.
“I bought the property first,” Steve said. “I liked it because it seemed perfect for a farm house but after researching them, I started looking into frame homes and from there, I discovered barn restorations.”
“A barn home just seemed so appropriate for the property,” he continued. And there are so many companies that save barns as a way of preserving history and that was important to us. We chose this barn because we felt it integrated really well with the property and its history.”
Steve spoke with local barn restorers and found there were quite a few out east. After meeting with several companies, he decided to purchase the barn from Antique Wood and Restoration. He picked Framed by Vintage East to disassemble, clean and transport the barn via flatbed truck. Winkler Construction, Washburn, was chosen to help with the actual construction.
Debbie and Steve have a knack for landscaping and that came in handy because everywhere they looked they saw weeds.
“It was just a yard full of neglect,” Debbie said. “Weeding was a lot of work but very worth it. You won't see any lavish flowerbeds because we thought it would distract from the three acres of prairie grasses Steve and Pheasants Forever (of St. Paul, Minn.) have added to what was already here.”
Their prairie grass view changes color depending on the season and the way the sun shines. Steve says the many colors “ even add to our winter views. It's a year-long rainbow colored vision of red, gold, brown and green grasses.”
With hot, dry summers and cold winters, prairies, a mix of grasses and wildflowers, are a big part of Illinois. When the Clanins moved in, prairie grass was already part of their yard. Steve added more types that include purple and yellow coneflowers, cordgrass, big bluestem, purple prairie clover and mountain mint.
The grasses give Steve and Debbie a wildlife benefit. While deer, fox and rabbits are normal visitors, the couple enjoys watching owls, barn swallows, coyote, quails and turkeys.
After a one-and-a-half-year renovation, the Clanins moved into their 2,349-square-foot home on Dec. 24, 2007. They had their first family gathering of 60 friends and family on Christmas Day.
Steve said their three-bedroom, two-bath home can easily entertain 30 to 40 people.
“And for some reason, people love to come here for the views, our comfortable home and of course the stars at night,” he smiled.
“Besides the incredible star shows, we can sit on our deck or patio and see all the fire flies that really make the night magic,” Debbie added. “And we can sit at the kitchen table in the morning and watch dragon flies hover right outside the window. We're even a stop for humming birds.”
But it's the unusual 34-foot peaked ceiling that naturally blends into all those hand-hewn beams and posts that add to the home's cozy and unique beauty. Walk through any of the rooms and enjoy views of the many small historic and country charm decorations that friends and family often leave as gifts. Debbie has a small solid and heavy black metal ball, an actual musket, she found when they dug into the foundation.
One hard-to-miss feature is the stone Rumford fireplace that adds so much warmth to the open floor plan. Tall and shallow, the fireplace is a wonderful way to enjoy a cozy fall or winter fire while looking out the many windows.
When Steve was at a loss on how to add stairs to the second floor, he hired the architectural firm of Basalay, Cary & Alstadt Architects, Ltd., Ottawa, to help with the design. Woodworker John Phillips helped Steve create the steps that lead to a loft, master bedroom/bath and a snug, comfortable sitting room, all with the same glimpses into the outdoors from the large windows.
With another master bedroom downstairs, the main level also features a large-sized laundry room. The home has a full basement with 10-foot ceilings and space plumbed out for another bath.
The details of the barn's charm with its large wooden pegs, refinished barnwood floors and high barnwood beams and rafters are part of why the home is unique. Hard to miss and easy to love, the rooms showcase 12x12 posts and 10x10 beams. Upstairs, a 50-foot-long beam stretches across almost the entire length of the home.
Steve said he refinished the floors, “one board at a time. It was truly a labor of love.”
Another distinctive feature are the 12-foot posts. “In the Midwest, usually those posts are 8 by 6 so you can see that this barn-home is very well-built,” he added.
The home is located on a piece of Illinois history
The home stands out for its beauty while the property stands out for its history.
In May 1832, settlers of Sandy Creek were warned that Chief Blackhawk of the Sac Indians was only eight miles north of Ottawa, planning an attack on them. The settlers built Fort Darnell, with room inside for 70 cabins. The fort, built for protection, included a deep well that is still on the Clanin's property. That well and two others are still in working condition.
A granite monument was erected in 1951 by the descendants of Benjamin Darnell as a tribute to the men who fought in the Blackhawk War. Abraham Lincoln was one of those men and through an error, his name was left off the monument. Lincoln complained to the original committee and his name was added. In a box at the monument's base there's a copy of the Wenona Index dated June 21, 1951, a 1903 Indian Head penny, an Indian arrowhead that was found along Sandy Creek and several commemorative stamps.
Descendants wrote, 'We hope coming generations will ever cherish this historical marker as a symbol of courage and bravery of all the people and their descendants who sought refuge in the fort during 1832 and 1833.'
THE HOUSE at 2558 Evans Road, Magnolia, is priced at $350,000. The home is listed by Realtor Larla Grandadam from Starved Rock Realty. Call Grandadam at 815-667-9990 or 815-883-1353 for more information.