fixer upper

Under $75K Thursday ~ c.1853 Fixer Upper Italianate in Belvidere IL Under $70K (Loads of History) ~ Sold

628 Buchanan St, Belvidere, IL 61008   $69,900 ~ Sold



This c.1853 fixer upper Italianate is rich in history.

Family Background

William Holt Gilman, a lawyer from New Hampshire, came to northern Illinois around 1837 where he purchased a farm and built a log cabin. Upon the sale of his farm, he bought a large parcel of land in Belvidere often called Gilman’s Woods.

With the coming of the railroad to the area, Gilman decided to build a stately mansion in the middle of his acreage somewhere between 1851 and 1853. He lived there with his wife Juliet, daughter of Colonel Joel Walker, and children Caroline, Helen, Kate and William Jr.

William Sr.’s granddaughter and last of the Gilman line to live in the house, Julliette Sager (173-1957), was a budding New York stage actress.

Architectural Elements

The exterior walls of the house were 20 inches thick, made of brick, stone and plaster. Humungous wood beams supported the roof, on top of which stood a cupola. From the cupola, the Gilman family would often signal to the home of Juliet’s father who owned another brick house on East Lincoln Avenue.

On the ground floor of the the Gilman House, tall French windows opened at the top and bottom, ideal for light and ventilation. A reception room was entered through large double doors, and spacious rooms with beamed ceilings led off from there.

Two fireplaces were made of imported Italian marble, of which only one remains in the house today. The other was given to a museum in Rockford.


An avenue of butternut trees led from the mansion to Logan Avenue, and an orchard was on the grounds. At the rear of the property were the stables and a small house for the caretaker and servants.

The Fall

After the death of William Sr. in 1873, his wife, daughter and granddaughter continued to live in the house. Sadly, maintenance costs for the large estate were too much for them, and they began selling off parcels.

Just as granddaughter Julliette’s career was taking off on Broadway, her ill mother called her back home. Here Julliette cared for both her mother and grandmother, as well as serving as librarian in the Illinois State Library and writing the autobiographical novel, Anne Actress.

By 1945, most of the acreage had been sold off and subdivisions now stood where orchards and butternut trees once grew. With no land left to sell off for maintenance of the home, Julliette sold the mansion to Herman Strummond, who proceeded with remodeling.

Strummond sold the home 20 years later to the Ryman family who were very interested in restoring it to its original condition. Now it is someone els’s turn to continue restoration.

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Known as the Gilman Residence built in 1853 is a Local Belvidere Landmark. Rich in history & charm, this home needs someone with the passion for history and ability to restore the 4448 Sq Ft. fixer upper.

In the main home, original oak front door, Hardwood floors, built ins, many ornate details through the home. Two fireplaces, an Italian marble fireplace in the grand living room with a 2nd fireplace in the upper family room.

The Central Tower is an example Italianate Architecture. Other elements include the balcony on the front of the home, window shutters are recessed, hardwood floors and pocket door. Stain Glass panel in the hall ceiling.

Full basement is very usable space with an outside entrance. The Studio apartment is 532 sq ft with covered deck, kitchenette, living room, bath & 2 small rooms.

The original hitching post remains by the driveway. The lot is .69 with a picket fence. Garage space attached to the home & De-attached 2 car with a loft.


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