Young America renovates 1880s barn into apartments


Zack Applehaus/Photo Editor: The 1880’s horse barn will be into unique and luxury apartments.

Zack Applehaus/Photo Editor: The 1880s horse barn will be into unique and luxury apartments.


Realty company Young America has recently taken on the project of renovating a horse barn built in the 1880s.

Formerly known as the Dillon horse barn at 102 W. Phoenix Ave., the bigger of the two units in the building have since been remodeled and turned into an 11-unit apartment building.

Ralph Endress and Ken Verkler are the owners of the 125-year-old building.

“[The barn] is at a great location. As apartments get older, there is the opportunity to remodel them into luxury apartments,” Randy Paulissen, Young America property manager, said.

Remodeling details include replacing the flooring, insulation and kitchen.  A total of $68,500 was spent on the project.

“Just like all of our apartments, every so many years a unit needs additional attention,” Andy Netzer, Young America Realty general manager, said.

“In this case, we are adding bathrooms, which can get much more involved than simple cabinets and counters,” he explained.

“This building offers some of the only units that allow for more than four people to live together in the same apartment,” Netzer added.

The two remodeled units will be some of the nicest suites on campus, with granite counters, new kitchens, hot tubs in the living rooms, exposed brick walls, fireplaces, 50-inch flat screen televisions and more.

In addition, one of the units has five bedrooms and the other has six.

Young America started working in one of the units this past spring, and began the other in May. They are stacked on top of each other, so the plumbing lines need to line up for gravity flow.

The barn had been burned from a fire that broke out at a nearby apartment building in 2005, which Endress and Verkler had also owned.

The fire had burned nearly all of the three-story complex that had been attached, suddenly leaving several college students without a place to live. The building has not been used since.

Endress and Verkler have been working since 2011 to get their 32-unit building plan to use the site of the burned building for apartments, which the City Council had passed.

Ellis Dillon had built the brick barn in the late 1880s to use for Percheron draught horses, according to the Pantagraph. The Dillons were known throughout the country as a family that raised imported horses from France.

The Dillon family also owned another building that was in place of what is now the Constitution Trail, which was demolished in the 1970s, and is now known as City Hall Annex.

For more information on the Dillon Family, check out “The Legacy: A Survey of the Historical Architecture of the Town of Normal” by Carl Ekberg, Ann Malone and William Walter.

The new apartments will be available for residents to take occupancy shortly before the start of school in August.

“These will be by far the most unique units on campus,” Netzer said.

One Response

  1. James

    Leave the historical site alone. Use it as a historical site not apartment for students.


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