Give This Buyer a Genius Grant for Getting a Mansion at Such a Deal

John and Adele Simmons, who had ties to the MacArthur Foundation, sold a Lincoln Park mansion for 59 percent of the ask.

The 15-room Lincoln Park home

Photo: Courtesy of Redfin

List Price: $3.25 million
Sale Price: $2.825 million
The Property: Maybe the next MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grant” should go to the buyers who managed to pick up this 15-room Lincoln Park mansion at 59 percent of what its sellers originally wanted for it.

The sellers—identified in public records as John and Adele Simmons (Adele was the head of MacArthur until 1999)—first put the 8,500-square-footer on the market in October 2011 with a $4.75 million pricetag. Their sale at a little over 40 percent off closed on Wednesday. The buyers aren’t yet identified in the Cook County Recorder of Deeds’ files.

Right now the house is completely obscured by summer greenery, but from the front, the house looks as if it must have started life as a classic brick Chicago three-flat; the listing says it was built in 1912. It’s completely different in the rear, as the listing photos show: it’s nearly all glass back there. The addition was the design work of Wheeler Kearns, according to the listing. Standing on a 50-by-175-foot lot, the house has six bedrooms, six baths, an indoor pool, and, according to the listing, a “rear lawn perfect for croquet.” There’s also a three-car garage and a separate apartment.

Adele and John Simmons paid $575,000 for the home in 1989, according to the Recorder. That’s the year the couple moved to Chicago from Massachusetts, where Adele Simmons had been president of Hampshire College, and she took the job running the MacArthur Foundation. It was a return to her hometown: Adele Smith Simmons is a member of an old Lake Forest family that through either birth or marriage connects her to everything from the founding of Montgomery Ward & Co to the Marsh and McLennan insurance giant, to the Ryerson Woods forest preserve and even those crazy, beloved Thorne Rooms in the basement of the Art Institute.

Since leaving the MacArthur Foundation in 1999, she has been involved in philanthropic and environmental work, and last year received an award for her efforts on green issues. John Simmons is the head of Strategic Learning Initiatives, a non-profit that works to boost the educational outcome of low-income people.

I could not reach the couple for comment, and their listing agent, Janet Owen, declined to comment.

Price Points: After putting the property on the market in October 2011, the couple dropped the price twice in 2012 and a third time in April of this year. That got it down to $3.25 million, or 68 percent of their original asking price. In mid-July they accepted an offer that took it down the rest of the way to the final sale price.

Because I don’t know what they had spent on the rehab and expansion, there’s no way to estimate what their profit might or might not be. After all, I’m not a genius—or at least the MacArthur Foundation doesn’t appear to think I am.

Listing Agent: Janet Owen of Prudential Rubloff, 312-268-0700 and jowen@rubloff.com

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