From Two-Flat to Single-Family in Wicker Park
List Price: $1,699,000
The Property: The couple who converted this circa 1889 two-flat in Wicker Park into a single-family home were transferred out of the country shortly after the rehab was finished. The home they left behind has a handsome Victorian brick exterior wrapped around a spacious and sunny renovated interior that retains a few nice vintage details.
Most of the buildings on the home’s lovely, quiet block are older, with some newer structures mixed in. Immediately next door is where the great Chicago novelist Nelson Algren lived in a third-floor apartment for about 20 years.
In 2008, Marcus Cooper and Heather Clark bought the then somewhat run-down two-flat on an extra-deep lot (171 feet, compared to the city norm of 125) and launched a complete interior renovation that included everything from installing four skylights above the second-floor bedrooms and hallway to blowing environmentally friendly foam insulation into all the exterior walls. All the windows were replaced with weather-tight models, and there’s a new electrical system, new copper plumbing, and tankless water heaters (which provide instant hot water using far less gas than conventional water heaters).
From the original interior, Cooper and Clark retained plaster ceiling medallions, a pair of detailed wood pillars between the front parlor and the living room, and various built-ins. The finished home feels more like a new space with antiques installed than like an old home. In the rear of the main floor is a large, sunny kitchen with classic-look cabinets that hint at the home’s original vintage but match current style. As you’ll see in today’s video tour, the kitchen is part of a large room that can accommodate informal dining and family hangout spaces. Aside from the kitchen room and a dining room, the main floor also has a side-by-side parlor and living room that put entertaining and leisure near each other. There’s also a small bedroom or office tucked off to the side by itself.
With 11.5-foot main-floor ceilings, a large master bedroom and bath at the rear of the second floor, a big-for-the-city backyard thanks to the deep lot, and a rooftop deck with a view of the Sears Tower, the home feels open and spread out.
A rentable one-bedroom apartment, also completely renovated, is located above the alley garage.
Price Points: Cooper and Clark paid $825,000 for the property in August 2008, according to the Cook County Recorder of Deeds. The cost of renovations came to “more than the difference” between that and their list price, Maisel says. “They’re not asking to come out ahead.”