Doug is a founding partner and president of Von Dreele – Freerksen Construction Co. He has been involved in the restoration of vintage homes for over fifty years beginning by helping his father with the family’s c.1900 Victorian. After contributing to and managing dozens of restoration projects, among them 20 structures by Frank Lloyd Wright, Doug approaches each project with beginner’s excitement. He delights in “reading” the house to find its lost elements and to understand its architectural vocabulary. His knowledge and forthrightness have won him a number of preservation awards, a seat on the Oak Park Historic Preservation Commission and the Easement Committee of Landmarks Illinois.
Jerry Smith, Partner
Jerry has worked at VDF for over 15 years, becoming partner in 2004. With an "eagle eye" towards quality control and thoroughness regarding budget and timeline, Jerry is an exemplar professional in the business. Jerry is an avid glass blower and many of the pieces are displayed in the Von Dreele-Freerksen offices.
Scott Stack, Partner
Scott Stack has worked with VDF since 1990 as a carpenter and lead fabricator in our mill shop. Scott became partner in 2005, bringing his interest in color, space planning and architectural detailing to our projects. He attended the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, then moved to New York for several years before settling in Oak Park.
Colby Shaft, Partner
Colby first met VDF when he was eight years old, when they remodeled part of his parents' house in Oak Park. Colby kept an eye on VDF, especially after graduating from OPRF and co-founding his own construction company. Colby received his BFA and MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He joined VDF in 2007 and enjoys the unique and creative challenges that restoration work provides. He became partner in 2016.
Waldek has worked at Von Dreele-Freerksen since 1998. He works primarily for the HomeCure division, where his amazing problem solving abilities are utilized daily. Outside of work, he is an avid gardener and pastor at his church.
Ben is the proud father of two girls, one boy, and grandfather of a beautiful baby boy. He is a gifted craftsmen who enjoys the challenging and unique jobs at VDF. He has worked with VDF since 2001, and his eagerness and positivity is appreciated by colleagues and clients alike.
Born and raised in Oak Park, Greg has worked at VDF since 2005. He earned a BA in Psychology from UIC and studied violin making. He is currently teaching wood carving at Triton College in River Grove, IL.
After initially pursing a career in art, Tom decided to continue in his family tradition and became a third generation carpenter. With excellent craftsmanship and effective project management, Tom has completed countless successful projects. He has been a valued member of VDF since 1998.
Deb joined the Prairie
Plus design team in 2010. She has over 15 years of design/build industry
experience in the Chicago area. A graduate of Harrington College of
Design, she came to the field after working in finance. She
holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from Loyola University of
Elyse began working for the Prairie Plus design team in 2014 as an intern as she simultaneously completed her Master of Arts in Interior Design at Harrington College of Design. Upon graduation at the top of her class in 2016, she became a designer who loves putting her tech and creative skills to work designing fresh solutions for clients. Elyse holds undergraduate degrees in Political Science, International Studies, and French from the University of Iowa.
Emily Bailey Burns
Emily joined the staff as Operations Manager in 2015, bringing her expertise and veneration for historic preservation to each project of VDF, Prairie Plus, and HomeCure. Emily is a Minneapolis native who moved to Chicago for school, graduating from DePaul University with her undergraduate degree and the School of the Art Institute with a Masters degree in Historic Preservation. Before joining VDF, Emily worked for the Historic Chicago Bungalow Association.
Kathy joined the VDF administrative staff after 32 years in the telecommunications industry, where her last assignment was Chief of Staff for a large retail arm in Denver. Kathy moved to Oak Park upon retirement in 2000 to be closer to family, and has enjoyed putting her executive experience to work at VDF, Chicago Teacher, and Trinity High School. Kathy loves to read and golf, and she's addicted to barre and spin classes.