Man relives his childhood memories in D’Arcy House
By Frank Vaisvilas Correspondent June 18, 2013 10:38PM
Arvel Vaughan stands outside the front entrance of the John D'Arcy House on Monday, June 17, 2013. | Photo by Frank Vaisvilas~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 20, 2013 6:35AM
JOLIET — Memories began flooding back to Arvel Vaughan as he walked inside the historic John D’Arcy House this week.
The last time he walked inside the house was more than 80 years ago, when his aunt had worked as a housekeeper for the locally prominent Joliet native John D’Arcy.
Vaughan was raised by his aunt and as a child would accompany her while she worked inside the home.
“If I was quiet and didn’t make a mess, I got to play in here,” Vaughan said.
Vaughan recalls playing “store” inside the large pantry of the D’Arcy House during his early childhood years. He would pretend to be the clerk inside the pantry “store” and sell the items in there.
Vaughan’s son-in-law, Nick Widner, had arranged for the revisiting of the D’Arcy House as a Father’s Day gift.
Vaughan turns 90 next month, but on Monday he relived a part of his childhood.
“When we brought him in here, it just opened his mind,” Widner said.
He began to recall memories in every room he entered, such as how he used to enter the house through the back door and where Mr. D’Arcy’s favorite horse was stabled.
The 8,000-square-foot D’Arcy House is two-and-a-half stories high and is a local landmark. It was built in 1901 in the neoclassical style and features a beautiful staircase leading up to the top two levels.
D’Arcy was a lawyer who lived in the home until he died in 1935.
The house was owned by his family until the 1960s, when it was sold and later became a nursing home and then a daycare center.
In 2007, the mansion was moved 800 yards down the street from its original location to make room for a parking lot for the Patrick Haley Mansion, whose owner, Jeff Bussean, also owns the D’Arcy House.
The exterior of the house is still stunning, but the interior is largely unfinished.
Jan Oldham, who manages the Haley Mansion and who arranged Monday’s tour of the D’Arcy House, said plans to renovate the house had been on hold since the downturn of the economy.
But despite some missing walls, Vaughan quickly found where his old pantry “store” should be as he walked through.
Vaughan currently lives in the Ingalls Park subdivision in Joliet and would occasionally see the D’Arcy House from the outside, but never had the chance to walk inside again until now.
“Every time I pass this place, it’s a joy to me,” Vaughan said.
He was accompanied on the tour by his two daughters, two son-in-laws and his wife of 63 years, Maggie Vaughan.
“It thrills him,” Maggie said. “He loves to talk about old times.”