Handyman enjoys transforming old homes
Congratulate the new grandfather by phoning Joe Vargo Construction LLC, 900 W. Washington St., Glenview, at 847-832-0436.
Updated: October 23, 2012 3:55PM
GLENVIEW — With autumn here, those showy yellow tulips with Rembrandt-red petal rims are a springtime memory for Joe Vargo of Glenview, who is proud of his 115-year-old house off Henley Street.
While fall is a time to plant next year’s bulbs, Vargo is focusing on a rose garden and other plantings at a white frame residence down the block at 1901 Henley which flanks the Harlem Avenue Glenview Fourth of July parade route.
This old house is a handyman special.
“I’ve got my kids fighting over the house right now because they don’t realize I buy houses to invest and not to give to them,” said Vargo, with laugh.
Raised in Wilmette, Vargo, the owner of Joe Vargo Construction LLC since 2008, and his wife Peggy, a Highland Park nurse, have three children: Vicky, 27, Joey, 24 and Kimmy, 22, all three Glenbrook South High School graduates.
Joe and Peggy welcomed their first grandchild last summer.
What’s in a name?
“Go figure, it’s Joe the fifth,” said Vargo, with a chuckle
“Every Joe had to have a Joe, so we got a cup of Joes here …”
As Vargo was being interviewed on a sidewalk, a motorist offered a polite honk of the horn.
“Glenview, I love the town,” said Vargo, a neighbor since 1987.
Looking at the house at 1901 Henley, he said it’s special because “I’ve got to be a mechanic to work on it.”
“I’ve got to really dig in and pull something out of it, it’s like pulling a rabbit out of the hat. Building houses from scratch is great and I absolutely love it, but when you build something that was a disaster and you have to turn it around, it’s like a frog and prince type of arrangement,” said Vargo, who has 35 years of professional trades on his resume. He is the former construction foreman of the exclusive Highland Park Hybernia development.
“When people are driving by ... it will be a great feeling to see how it’s changed.”
Vargo’s tour of the residence revealed gutted walls. A brick fireplace to the north suggested cozy Thanksgivings.
“My goal is not to get rich, but to just get out what I’ve got into them,” said Vargo.
Vargo was being wheeled into hospital hip surgery when his wife handed him the phone. A real estate agent said 1901 Henley’s price had dropped.
“I gave an offer on the phone,” said Vargo, whose bid was initially rejected.
“I love old houses. I’ve remodeled two flats, three flats in the city, five flats in the city. My father-in-law lived in a house that survived the Chicago Fire. I remodeled his, so I definitely don’t have a problem with repairing old houses,” he said.
Looking down at grandson Joe, napping in a nearby car seat, it’s clear Joe Vargo’s home is where his family is.