Sandwich, IL
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Plano's history is on display

Mary Kay Sergo didn't grow up in Plano, but she has embraced the community's history, warmly, with both arms.

Sergo and her husband, Chet, purchased The Homestead Bed and Breakfast in July and started taking guest reservations in September. With a work history with the Wisconsin Department of Corrections, Mary Kay Sergo said she wanted a job that was enjoyable.

"We wanted to surround ourselves with positive people and provide an escape," she said.

With his work as a scout for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Chet wanted to find a location to make his commute easier so he could be home more.

"He put a pin in the map, drew a circle so many miles from that pin and said 'find something in this radius.' I started looking online and found The Homestead," Mary Kay said.

The closing process, on both the home they owned in Wisconsin and The Homestead, took several months. Mary Kay said the former owners of the inn were wonderful.

"The Langguths (Robin and Alan) live just across the street and anytime I have questions, all I have to do is ask. They've been so helpful," she said.

Homestead history

Built in 1854 by Lewis Steward, The Homestead is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Architecturally patterned on Italian country cottages of Tuscan villages, the house was expanded in the early 1860s and again in the 1870s. It remained in the Steward family until 1954.

Steward is often considered the father of Plano. He offered the CB&Q Railroad right-of-way across his property.

He plotted the city's streets, subdivided his property and provided land for the community's first 12 churches. He also provided the city's water system, developed a park, built and opera house and served as a representative in the 52nd Congress.

Mary Kay said the home is believed to have been a stop on the Underground Railroad during the Civil War.

The Homestead sat vacant for three years until Dr. Stefen and Olena Wojtowycz bought it and modernized it. Langguth Design Ltd. purchased the home in May 2003 and renovated it to be used as a bed and breakfast, decorator's show house and special event facility.

The interior of the design was done by the Langguths. But, rather than being intimidated by the warm, historic beauty of the home, Mary Kay urges visitors to "touch, feel, sit, be comfortable."

Putting their stamp on it

While the Sergos didn't change a lot inside The Homestead, Mary Kay said they did change the names of the rooms.

"Consistent with the time period, the rooms were named for the color they were painted. But what if I want to change the color?" Mary Kay asked.

The first-floor library is now named the Lewis Steward Library.

The rooms are the Batteau Room, the Pastime Room, the Steward Room, the Maya Room, the Kollat Room and the Fox River Suite with its own sitting room. Some of the rooms can be combined and reserved as suites with shared bathrooms. It's also possible to rent the entire house for group retreats or family reunions.

Along with the beauty of the house itself, Mary Kay said one thing that drew them was the space to have outdoor events on the two-acre property. The side lawn contains a small hedge maze and labrynth.

Mary Kay said they also offer a variety of spa services and amenities.

For more information, visit thehomesteadbnb.com or call 630-552-4322.

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