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Lansing History: The house on Thornton-Lansing Road that’s 135 years old

From the Daehn family to the Bischof family, 2243 Thornton-Lansing Road has seen over a century of family growth

LANSING, Ill. (February 20, 2024) – Five years after the house at 2243 Thornton-Lansing Road in Lansing was built, Charles Daehn purchased it to begin a new life with his soon-to-be bride, Bertha Dommer. The house was built in 1889. It’s unknown who the original owners, or the builder, were.

The house became filled with love and laughter as the Daehns raised a family of nine children. Charles lived there until his death on August 2, 1960, at age 82. Bertha continued to live in the house until her death on December 18, 1967.

Even in death hey stayed close to home. The house is located next to the Oak Glen Lutheran Cemetery where they, and several other family members, are buried. Charles had been the cemetery caretaker at one time. He also was the church janitor and rang the Trinty Lutheran Church bell at 6 p.m. every Saturday. He was the village garbage collector during the 1930s and 40s, and he eventually retired as a brick maker.

2243 Thornton-Lansing Road was built in 1889, and has experienced some minor alterations. (Photo: Dan Bovino, 2013)

Current owners

The current owners of the historic home are R. William (Bill) Bischof Jr. and his wife Lorna Van Kley Bischof. They have one son, Richard Bischof III, and two daughters, Genesis Bischof-Bult and Alice Bischof-Alderden.

Both Bill and Lorna are appreciative of the house’s history.

“Bill and I have an affection for old things. We appreciate the craftsmanship of older things. When we saw the house, we both loved it,” said Lorna, who’s gathered a great deal of historical information about the house through the years.

House additions and family financing

When the Bischofs bought the house in 1992, they were told the addition on the back was done 25 years before. That would have been around 1967. Records also indicate Charles Daehn had received a permit to put on a porch in July 1952.

Additions to the back of the house were made in the mid 20th century. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

The Bischofs purchased the home from Mark and Jacqueline DeBoer for $92,500. The DeBoers had rehabbed the house before selling it to to Bischofs.

Alice plays piano as her sister Genesis plays bassoon. All three of the Bischof children were taught to play on the vintage player piano by their grandmother, Narcissa (Schultz) Van Kley. (Photo courtesy of Lorna Van Kley Bischof)

“We never would have been able to purchase this house if it wasn’t for my grandfather, Anthony Van Kley,” she said. “He financed it and we paid our mortgage to him. We agreed that he would always have a room in our house. We didn’t use the downstairs bedroom right from the start, as it would be his room when he was ready. He did come to live here, but only for a couple of months before he died in 1993. He was 90 at the time.”

Lorna’s mother, Narcissa (Schultz) Van Kley also spent time in the house in the 1990s and early 2000s when she taught piano lessons from that address. The antique player piano was still in the house until January of this year when Narcissa’s granddaughter Genesis, who had taken lessons from her grandmother, took possession of it.

“We have done our best to be good stewards of the house and property, knowing that it had been truly loved for generations,” Lorna said.

Walls, paint, chalk — A house from a bygone era

The house is made of common brick, allowing for a uniformity that made the structure resilient over the years. These bricks also provided insulation, preventing heat loss and noise transmission, contributing to energy efficiency. Newspapers used as additional insulation can still be found in the floorboards and rafters of the house — and some of the newspaper print can still be read.

Newspapers — which can still be read today — were used as additional insulation in the house. (Photo: Lorna Van Kley Bischof)

The basement has evidence of knob and tube wiring, an early standardized method of electrical wiring used from about 1880 to the 1930s. The inside walls are three bricks thick with another brick as a gap. The family found that out when having central air installed in the house.

They also discovered the inside frames of the living room windows had 13 layers of paint.

The woodwork is plain and simple. When the family opened a kitchen wall, they found a window that faced the backyard before the addition was put on.

“Bill custom-made a shelving unit so that it fit right in that space, and matched it to the trim in the kitchen.” Lorna said.

On the wall in the stairwell to the basement is written in white chalk, “Sherry and Steve” next to a “TLA” icon, which is thought to mean “true love always.”

This proclamation of love is written on the wall in the stairway to the basement at 2243 Thornton-Lansing Road. Lorna doesn’t knows who the couple is. (Photo courtesy of Lorna Van Kley Bischof)

“I sure wish I knew who Sherry and Steve were, and if they’re still together!” Lorna said.

Since the Bischofs moved in, the roof has also needed to be replaced.

“It was a complete tear off of four layers including the shake shingles. Architectural shingles were chosen, before they became popular and vents were added. Years later the entire house was tuck-pointed, caulked, and three paint colors were added to the trim to highlight the special uniqueness of the house,” Lorna said.

The Daehn family

There was once a house at the back of the lot that became occupied by one of the Daehn children, Edna Daehn-Hannagan and her husband Herbert with their five children. In 1928, the Hannagans secured property at 17942 Hickory in Lansing, and they moved the house to that address. Edna died January 23, 1986, at age 81.

This picture taken in front of the main house in an unknown year is believed to be the Charles Daehn family. It was given to Lorna when a man from the cemetery saw her in her yard and asked if she wanted it. She said yes. To this day she doesn’t know who that man was but is grateful to have the photograph. (Photo courtesy of Lorna Van Kley Bischof.)

Other adult Daehn children also lived “at home.” Frederika (Bobby) married Richard Potter and did some remodeling while they lived there. The stairway leading upstairs was turned around, and a bay window was installed in the dining room. Bobby was employed at the Lansing Holiday Inn from 1961-1969 and was awarded “longest service.” Bobby died October 24, 1986, at age 68.

Vera married Theodore (Ted) Tinburg in Crown Point in 1930 but kept it a a secret until she resigned from her job as a clerk in L. T. Vanderae’s store on Torrence Avenue. The couple then moved upstairs in the Daehn house.

Olga never married and took over her sister’s job at Vanderae’s. Olga died December 2, 1994, at age 87.

Wilma also never married, and she and her sister Olga were very active in Trinity Lutheran Church.

This photo shows the details of the brickwork at 2243 Thornton-Lansing Road. (Photo: Dan Bovino, 2013)

George was a Sergeant in the Army during WWII and married Ruth Mae Triemstra. George and Ruth Mae were co-owners of Daehn Jewelers in South Holland.

Carl was married to Evelyn, nee Peters. and they had two daughters. He was a Lutheran Braille worker and retired from Inland Steel after 38 years of service. Carl died September 23, 1993.

Nelson was married to Charlotte, and they made their life in Pensacola, Florida.

Of the nine children, Amanda lived the longest. She died May 15, 2003, at the ripe old age of 100. She was married to Edward Grimler who preceded her in death in 1978. Amanda’s survivors included five children, 11 grandchildren, and 15 great-grandchildren. She is buried in Holy Cross Cemetery in Calumet City.

A twin house

A “twin” house was built across the street at 2306 Thornton-Lansing Road. Records indicate it was built in 1885. The architecture was similar to the Daehn house except that it is a full two-story building, so the upstairs side windows are full size. The Daehn house is a 1-1/2 story.

“Our windows are shorter,” said Lorna.

The “twin” house also has a glass half-moon window over the front door. Lorna admired it and when they were doing some outside painting, she had a clear glass half-moon window re-installed over her front door, as hers had been covered up.

Across the street and farther east, a twin house bears many similarities to the 2243 Thornton-Lansing Road property. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

Both houses were decorated with corbels placed under the eaves making it look like they were holding up the roof. In the 1990s, the owners of the “twin” house remodeled and eliminated the corbels.

“I was washing dishes after the kids left for school and I had a perfect view of the house from my kitchen window,” Lorna said. “I saw men on ladders prying off the decorative corbels and letting them fall to the ground. I put some plastic grocery bags in my coat pockets and walked across the street. I asked if they were going to keep them and they said ‘No, you want them?’ I made several trips. That was sometime in the 1990s. I still have them in the rafters of the garage. If we need to replace any of ours, I will have a perfect match.”

The twin house became known as the Triezenberg House as it was occupied by John and Henrietta Triezenberg and their six children. One son, the late Henry, was married to Violet DeBoer (Meeter) who said her husband was about 12 years old when he lived there. Henry died in 1980.


Marlene Cook
Marlene Cook
Marlene Cook is a Lansing resident who loves learning and writing about local history. A member of the Illinois Women's Press Association since 1973, she has won multiple IWPA awards. Her 2020 awards in the Mate E. Palmer Communications Contest included first place for columns and second place for nonfiction book in the history category.


  1. Both houses were built by the Schultz family that owned the house qt 3511 Illinois street ! It was all farm land when he built the houses ! They were inteded for family members at the time. The house at 3511 Ilinois st. became Lansing Lumber Yard as I lived in the old lumber yard house from 19958 till 1967. An addition was put on to that house by my dad not sure of what year. A big kitachen abd bedroom were added on the west end of the house ! After we oved the Don Thompson and his family moved in ! Don was a state trooper and worked in the lumber yard ! His wife Judy daughters Donna and Jeny lived there for sevral years after we moved out Prior to us was Sam Vanderwouldie and his wife, He was also an employee of Lansinng Lumbber Yard for years !

  2. I absolutely love this! I’ve been wondering for years, knowing they were old, but not knowing the history 🙂 THANK YOU for letting us know!

  3. Interesting to note the street level in front of both these homes making it look like the homes have sunk into the ground when in reality the street has been improved upon.

  4. That truly was a house of love. Tradition was for all the family to gather for Sunday dinner. David is the son of Frederick. Thank you for this lovely article. It brought back memories and a few tears. Sherry Potter and Steve are still together.

  5. Thank you Marlene for all the research and extra information.
    I appreciate the comments.
    Nice to know Sherry and Steve are still together.
    Your chalk declaration of love still exists.
    Clarifications have been added to the article.

Comments are closed.


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