Photography: Chris Guillen
List price: $6.45 million
Leaving Rose Ridge Manor
Charles Walgreen’s estate features a “fairy tale” house designed by Stanley Anderson and a five-acre lot with a prairie, a pond, and a tiny Wrigley Field
Charles Walgreen-whose great-grandfather, grandfather, and father ran the famous drugstore chain-has put his elegant Lake Forest estate up for sale.
Walgreen, who doesn’t work for his family’s namesake company, bought the property in 1991 and dubbed it Rose Ridge Manor, for the borders of roses along the entry drive. The Georgian-style house, built in 1937, is the work of Stanley Anderson, the architect of many of Lake Forest’s landmark mansions, as well as its high school and hospital. “The Stanley Anderson feel is very charming,” says Walgreen (who has been living in a different Lake Forest house while going through a divorce). “The woodwork and detail-it’s just a whole approach that makes my house feel like it’s out of a fairy tale.” His agent, Mona Hellinga of Baird & Warner, adds that the house exemplifies the “country-retreat lifestyle that you can still find on the west side of Lake Forest.”
Additions done in the 1980s and ’90s include a 730-square-foot garden room, a family room, and three bedrooms (for a total of nine bedrooms). Many of the house’s original touches remain, such as the shallow front-hall closet that was made expressly for women’s purses. The estate’s five-acre lot is an outdoor smorgasbord, with a path running through a restored prairie, a large pond with a sandy beach, and a miniature railroad that chugs past a tiny replica of Wrigley Field.
List price: $2.05 million
Sale price: $2.065 million
In the Hot Zone
New schools, pretty location contribute to desirability of town’s priciest neighborhood
The first house in west suburban Clarendon Hills to pass the $2-million mark, this five-bedroom home stands in the town’s hot zone, a changing neighborhood on the suburb’s southwestern edge. And prices there are poised to climb even higher: a neighboring house, a likely teardown, is on the market for $2.37 million.
Willie Cronin, whose Cronin Builders designed and built this house, notes that nearby lots, which were typically going for about $275,000 five years ago, now sell at around $600,000. He paid $547,000 for this lot in September 2004. “It’s gone crazy,” says Cronin, who thinks two new neighborhood schools may have sparked the boom-though there are additional factors at work. Buyers are increasingly turning to Clarendon Hills as a lower-priced alternative to pricey Hinsdale next door, and the suburb’s south side is the prettier part of town.
“By this time next year, there will be four more [houses] sold at over $2 million, and one hitting $3 million,” predicts Dawn McKenna, the Coldwell Banker agent who sold the house for Cronin (the buyer’s name has not yet appeared in public records). “That first $2-million sale [convinces] other people that they can justify going that high, too.”
Cronin disagrees. “There’s an oversupply on the market now,” he says-though that isn’t stopping him from building another new high-priced house on a nearby lot.
Recent figures from the Multiple Listing Service of Northern Illinois (MLSNI) show that the number of high-end sales-houses that cost $1 million or more-during the first quarter of 2006 was up 29 percent locally over the same period last year. What’s more, the average sale price rose 12.3 percent, and the sales time dropped by 4.7 percent. Those numbers confounded several real-estate agents. “Everyone’s perception has been that there’s a slowdown,” says Loretta Alonzo, the president of MLSNI and the owner of a La Grange Park real-estate agency. “But if that’s what the numbers say, I have to tell my agents to list more million-dollar homes.” So why the misperception? Most likely the enlarged inventory of new high-end homes has influenced people’s estimations: even as sale prices go up and sales times go down, many expensive houses remain unsold.
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