Dean house comes down in Oak Brook
Work crews managed to take down most of the Dean House by Tuesday afternoon. | Joe Cyganowski~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 16, 2011 1:24PM
After months of discussion, the Oak Brook Park District has begun demolishing the Sam and Dorothy Dean House.
The house, located at 115 Canterbury Lane, was approved to be demolished late last year after a park district open house found little opposition to the idea.
Samuel E. Dean Jr., a former Oak Brook village president and chief executive officer of Dean Milk Co., had lived in the home with his wife Dorothy since moving to Oak Brook in 1940.
Dean died in 1975 while his wife passed away at age 96 in 2007.
According to park district Administrative Assistant Bonnie Gibellina, Dorothy Dean set up a life trust in 1995 and the 40-acre property was acquired by the Oak Brook Park District in January 2006.
“We were able to obtain a grant that enabled us to return the property to its native prairie habitat,” Gibellina said. “The main objective was, she wanted to preserve the habitat for animals.”
Dorothy Dean left the home in 2005 and died in a nursing facility in Naperville. The site has since been known as the Dean Nature Sanctuary, dedicated to preserving natural flora and fauna.
By 2009, the park district completed the ecological restoration of the site through a Illinois Department of Natural Resources grant.
Last year, park district Executive Director Laure Kosey told those attending an open house the cost to retro-fit the house for use as a nature or education center could cost up to $1 million.
Kosey said demolition costs and building a new facility on the site could reach $2 million.
Kosey said Tuesday the park district’s cost to demolish the home is just under $20,000 and should take about a week to complete.
“The amount of work needed at the house was a lot, especially the outside,” Gibellina said. “It would need to be ADA accessible, have a sprinkler system installed and washroom facilities. The costs would have been great for something that wouldn’t bring a lot of revenue.”
Dorothy Dean’s nephew, Howard Dean, attended last year’s open house and believed his aunt wouldn’t mind the house coming down as long as her vision of an open nature sanctuary was preserved.
“I feel fairly confident she would support tearing it down if she saw the plans to keep it as open space,” Howard Dean said in September 2010. “I would not stand in the way of tearing the house down.”