List Price: $1.375 million
The Property: In the mid-1930s, Frank J. Fisher, a Marshall Field’s executive, commissioned the architect Andrew Rebori to design a residential property that would also generate some income. Rebori recruited the muralist and craftsman Edgar Millerto help detail the spaces with stained glass and other finishes.
Completed in 1937, the building—known originally as the Fisher Studio Houses and situated at 1209 North State Parkway—is an Art Moderne landmark whose street face is a streamlined hatbox of painted brick and glass blocks. Beyond the front gate, 12 duplex apartments overlook a slender courtyard; Fisher lived in the three-story home at the rear.
When Fisher Studio was being renovated and converted to condos in 2000, the photographer Michael Marienthal bought the building’s largest unit (the one where Fisher had lived) and launched a complete restoration of the then-shabby space. He even plucked some original Edgar Miller art glass out of a trash heap and had it reinstalled in his home’s window openings.
It’s now a remarkable space, spread across three levels and pill-shaped (that is, a long rectangle with rounded ends). Milk-white plaster walls curve and fold over one another to create nooks for lighting and some storage. The Miller windows, herringbone-patterned wood floors, walls of glass block, and stainless steel kitchen give the home a “Greta Garbo elegance,” as the listing agent, Louise Study, puts it.
As you will see in the video, the home is a very bright space, a surprise because it sits on the back (east) edge of the lot, adjacent to the alley. Rebori put the main living rooms up a flight of steps and installed tall piles of glass block in the rear wall. The combination of those two softening measures—and the fact that the unit is set more than 100 feet back from the street—helps establish a calm atmosphere. It’s hard to imagine that the bustling intersection of State and Division streets is only a few doors south.
Marienthal’s renovation combined two bedrooms into a large master suite. It shares the third floor with a large second bedroom that has a pretty view of the brick piping, animal carvings, and other details in the courtyard. The home’s main level is on the second floor, its centerpiece the 420-square-foot pill-shaped living room; that floor also contains a library, a dining room, and the small kitchen that, in homage to the building’s period, is so full of polished metal surfaces that Marienthal calls it “the engine room.” Below are storage, laundry, and a one-car garage.
After dividing his time between Chicago and New Orleans for several years, Marienthal is now full-time in New Orleans, Study says, and no longer needs this home.
Price Points: Marienthal paid $599,000 for the unit in 2000, but keep in mind that it was in dilapidated condition. His “before” photos show walls and ceilings shedding layers of plaster and paper. Marienthal has not specified how much he spent on the renovation, which included rebuilding all the plaster walls. He initially listed the property for sale in January, with an asking price of $1.675 million.
Listing Agent: Louise Study of Rubloff, 312-368-5324; firstname.lastname@example.org