A Spruced-Up Sears Home in Rogers Park

List Price: $479,000
The Property: There’s a quiet block of classic houses and apartment buildings in Rogers Park where you can tell what a rooted part of the neighborhood it is just by looking at all the well-designed front gardens—several of which still look nice in late fall…


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List Price: $479,000
The Property: There’s a quiet block of classic houses and apartment buildings in Rogers Park where you can tell what a rooted part of the neighborhood it is just by looking at all the well-designed front gardens—several of which still look nice in late fall.

Among them is the garden in front of today’s house, a Sears kit home built in 1910. (We had incorrect data at the time we shot the video, where I said it was built between 1911 and 1913.) Since becoming only the third owners of the house in 2000, the musicians David Douglass and Ellen Hargis have done extensive restoration and upgrades. “I feel like almost every molecule has been replaced,” Douglass says.

Their period-sensitive approach is visible in the living room. Because the original brick mantel was damaged, they replaced it with stone tile that is more current. At the same time they created flanking bookcases that would have suited the home’s origins. It’s been a top-to-bottom overhaul, from the replacement roof to the updated plumbing and wiring. There’s a modern kitchen, extensive redone moldings—some of them salvaged from another Sears home nearby—and new windows throughout the house.

Not all the windows look new. In the window bay of the dining room, which was the most intact of the original rooms, there is now a row of beautiful stained-glass windows that fit right in with the wood ceiling beams, wainscoting, and built-ins. But they’re newcomers. Douglass explains that when he and Hargis moved in, the next-door neighbor had a security light that shone right into the conventional glass windows there, diminishing the room’s charm. The couple found vintage stained glass for the spot.

They made another smart move on the adjacent sun porch. It had been a cold and drafty place with old sliding doors to the yard. With the installation of insulated windows, it became a warm, sunlit breakfast room. Next door is the kitchen, whose cherry cabinets and big stainless steel hood bridge the home’s past and present.

The house has a classic foursquare layout, which on the second floor originally had four small square bedrooms. The space has been opened up in several strategic ways:

• Douglass and Hargis combined the two front bedrooms into one larger master bedroom. There is a small closet at one end, but a much larger one could be built at the other end.

• Up above, they converted the attic into a living space. It’s now used as a double office, but it could be a master bedroom or play room.

• At some point in its history, one of the back bedrooms was expanded with another sun porch. As they did downstairs, the couple made this porch into a four-season space with insulated windows that look over the backyard. Heavily shaded, it used to be “the place that plants went to die,” Douglass says—until he and Hargis installed a deck over most of it. There are still plantings in some areas, but much of the backyard is now easy-living space set in the shade of two towering trees believed to be as old as the house.

Price Points: Planning a move to a smaller home in the neighborhood, the couple listed the Sears house on October 31. Their agent, Frank Maguire, says he priced it in line with recent sales of comparably restored older Rogers Park homes. They include one that sold for $487,000 and another that went for $507,500, both in April. Another house on the same block as today’s home sold in June 2011 for $465,000.

Listing Agent: Frank Maguire of Baird & Warner; 773-883-2442 or frank.maguire@bairdwarner.com

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