In an "after-the-fact" application Tuesday, the Historic Preservation Commission attempted a probe of changes to the Coriell Mansion, but after some testy exchanges decided to try again in May.
The application listed the owner as "Joshwa Money School. LLC" and the items at issue included front double wooden doors, hanging light fixtures on the porch, removal of second story French doors and outdoor floodlights.
Jon Steingraber, who posted a video about the mansion he bought four years ago for $85,000, told the commissioners he replaced the doors after several break-ins, and gave his rationales for the other items. The discussion quickly became contentious, with Steingraber insisting he gave proper notice of the meeting to neighbors, though some in the audience said they never got notice.
HPC Chairman Bill Michelson asked Steingraber about rumors that he intends to lease the mansion for some sort of rooming or boarding house and said, "A great many people in the neighborhood are very unhappy with you."
Steingraber said the lease was for single-family use, but Michelson said, "We have been concerned that the tenant is going to move a bunch of people in there."
Michelson said the city will "seek an injunction" if so.
The mansion at 957 Central Avenue is said to be the largest residence in Plainfield. In the video, Steingraber says it has 26 rooms, including 10 bedrooms and 10 baths. As mentioned in the link, it was once on the way to becoming a bed and breakfast before Steingraber acquired it. On Tuesday, he said he had spent $500,000 on the house already.
Commissioners gave Steingraber advice on correcting the work he did without consulting the HPC, but in public comment resident Rowand Clark returned to the issue of the mansion's future. Steingraber said he didn't want a new tenant to do anything against the law, but also made some off-topic comments such as saying he had been in three relationships but was now getting married. Although the discussion had mellowed a bit as commissioners gave helpful advice, Michelson said there was probably no action to be taken that night.
Steingraber soon swung back to defensiveness, saying it was a "gossipy neighborhood" where someone alleged the mansion would become "a whorehouse."
Commissioner Larry Quirk told Steingraber to "tell the truth," but he replied, "I have so many haters."
He said he was approached by the unnamed company and added, "At the end of the day, I don't have a choice."
Quirk called him a speculator and a flipper before the commission voted to carry the application to the May meeting.