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List Price: $2.25 million
The Property: If you had designed a home in the late 1880s knowing how families would live in 2011, you might have come up with today’s residence: imposing on the outside—all that rough-cut limestone and a pair of turrets—but warm and casual on the inside.
George W. Maher and Cecil Corwin designed the house in 1888 in anticipation of the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893. They also did the house next door, though it looks entirely different (it’s the last photo in today’s gallery, below).
Because of the impressive width of today’s home, the current sellers, John and Stephanie Philosophos, were able to put the family and formal zones side by side when they renovated the house over the past six years. That created a nice circular traffic pattern, from the long, turreted living room (restored to its original look), through the dining room (added in 1905), with its mammoth plaster ceiling medallion and pretty window seat, and on to the modern farm-style kitchen and family room, spread out over the north side of the house where a series of small rooms used to be. (A new addition expanded the kitchen space.)
The couple’s rehab was so thorough and seamless that the house appears to have been built with this layout 123 years ago. For example, both the living and dining rooms have large pocket doors—but the living room’s are original, and the dining room’s are replicas. Elsewhere, the wide arch separating the kitchen from the family room imitates the arch on the home’s Richardsonian Romanesque façade. And after opening up a concealed staircase, John Philosophos, a builder and the owner of a building materials company, had carpenters duplicate the wooden balustrade on the upper half of the stairs to fashion a new lower half.
On the second floor are two family bedrooms and a second family room that could be a bedroom. Behind them, the large master suite includes a handsome bath and an outdoor sleeping porch. (That, too, is new, even though sleeping porches are an old-time feature.) The third floor, formerly attic space, has been turned into yet another family room that is now divided into a gym, a playroom, and craft spaces. In the large backyard sits a screened garden room with a Swiss roof; it’s big enough inside for both lounging and dining areas.
The house had last been updated in the 1950s. When the current owners bought the place, the stone had turned black, and “upstairs was very chopped up into small rooms,” Stephanie Philosophos says. The couple’s goal was to open up everything into a modern plan while retaining the historical nature of the home. They also worked to minimize sound from buses and other street traffic by placing a layer of solid pane glass outside all the art glass windows. With plans now to build a new, modern green home, they listed this house for sale at the beginning of the year.
Price Points: In 2005, the couple bought the house for $815,000. Estimates from a contractor and an architect had concluded that the restoration would come in for under $500,000, but John Philosophos says that he and his wife ended up spending well over twice that. Among other things, they replaced a deteriorated brick veneer on the sides of the house and updated all the plumbing and mechanicals.
Listing Agent: Donna Schwan of MetroPro; 773-667-1000
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