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Art Nouveau Marvels in a Buena Park Condo

List Price: $424,900
The Property: Originally the main living rooms of a mansion built in 1903, this second-floor condo has some original design elements that have been carefully preserved and restored. The most noteworthy of these features is an Art Nouveau fireplace, where flared columns flank a tile mosaic depicting yellow roses. The mantelpiece is a mirrored glass cabinet that bows outward. Nearby are…

List Price: $424,900
The Property: Originally the main living rooms of a mansion built in 1903, this second-floor condo has some original design elements that have been carefully preserved and restored. The most noteworthy of these features is an Art Nouveau fireplace, where flared columns flank a tile mosaic depicting yellow roses. The mantelpiece is a mirrored glass cabinet that bows outward. Nearby are oversize paneled pocket doors whose workings have been restored so they glide open; a pair of wooden doors that can be folded into the doorway casement; and a peculiar little quarter-round room that is like a small enclosed balcony. It might have been a smoking room, theorizes Jim Ticus, the real-estate developer who rehabilitated the property in 2007 and 2008.

In the very large dining room, there is a wood-beamed ceiling with Gothic tracery and another tile fireplace. The ceiling in one of the condo’s two bedrooms (the one that was once a parlor) displays plaster images of animals, leaves, and other natural elements. That bedroom also has a fireplace tiled with a tropical beach scene and a balcony with an ornate wrought-iron railing. 

Outside the condo, in a stairway used by only one other residence, there are heavy wood beams, stained glass, and carved allegorical figures—most likely part of the processional entry to the main living area, Ticus says. The house, whose façade is as ornate as a brick structure can get via turning, cutting, and coloring ordinary clay blocks, was the design of Henry Ottenheimer, whose works are still extant on South Halsted Street and Wilson Avenue; his company also helped to design the Elks National Memorial Building in Lincoln Park. The original owner of the house was Paul Mueller, the structural engineer who collaborated with the architect Louis Sullivan to develop the raft foundation beneath the Auditorium Theater.

The home, situated in Buena Park—the Chicago neighborhood between Montrose Avenue and Irving Park Road that is bisected by Buena Avenue—had been cut up into apartments decades ago. But, Ticus says, the building was owned by a woman who “protected what she had,” including the architectural details in the front part of the mansion, where the owner’s family would have lived. Intent on preserving those details, Ticus bought the building a few years ago and transformed the place into six condos.

Ticus had initially made a deal to sell this condo (the residence with the most intact details) over a year ago. According to Ticus, the potential buyer rented the place while trying to arrange financing, but that never worked out—which is why Ticus now has the condo back on the market. 

Price Points: When I wrote about the condo building in the magazine’s March 2008 issue, this condo was priced at $499,000. It first came back on the market earlier this year at $439,000, and is now priced at $424,900, or about 15 percent off what Ticus wanted for it 18 months ago.

Listing Agent: James Ticus of Prairie Shore Properties, 847-602-7890; jticus@aol.com

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