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List Price: $3,997,000
The Property: In 2002, Marge Johnsson bought this red brick manor house—which had been designed nearly 100 years earlier by the architect Howard Van Doren Shaw—as the freshman rehab project for Magnolia Restorations, the company she was then launching. “I wanted to do it the way Shaw would have done it if he’d been here,” Johnsson says today.
For a first project, the results are impressive. Johnsson seems to have successfully channeled Shaw, as is particularly evident in the assortment of fanciful arts and crafts light fixtures she installed throughout the house. Her meticulous care further reveals itself in her decision to install some woodwork over the living room mantel and to add a loggia at the rear of the house.
Johnsson deduced the placement of the living room woodwork based on some grime shadows that indicated where the originals had been. In the case of the loggia, she copied what Shaw had done on other houses. Johnsson believes Shaw might have planned a loggia for this house as well, but construction came to a halt here when the first wife of the original owner, the Chicago attorney John Montgomery, died in 1909. Though the house originally served as a country escape from the big city, Johnsson says that Montgomery made the place his full-time residence some time after his first wife died.
Though mechanically all new, the 14-room house feels the way it must have in Montgomery’s day. The arched ceiling and rich butternut paneling of the entry hall leads to the main rooms, all trimmed with handsome millwork that would be prohibitively expensive today. There is a library with quarter-sawn oak cabinetry fronted by leaded-glass doors, a dining room trimmed in beech (and with a servant’s buzzer still mounted in the floor), and a living room whose ceiling beams are reproductions of some that Shaw had on his drawings for the house but may never have installed.
Johnsson put in an entirely new kitchen, but with its delft tiles and brick fireplace, it feels as if it could have been original—if affluent homeowners had spent any time in their own kitchens in 1908. There are four second-floor bedrooms and two more upstairs. The master suite has a fireplace, a sunroom, and a deck that overlooks the back yard. The family room is on the third floor, in what would originally have been the servants’ quarters. Out back, Johnsson installed a new swimming pool and a fountain salvaged from a historic home in Oak Park. Beyond that sits the 1929 coach house, which has a sunny little apartment or office suite on the second floor.
Price Points: Johnsson completed the renovations in 2004 and moved her family in while completing another project elsewhere in Winnetka. She listed this house at $4,775,000 about a year ago, but after moving into her later project last fall, she cut the asking price here to $3,997,000. According to data from the Multiple Listing Service of Northern Illinois, a dozen homes in Winnetka have sold for more than $3 million in the past year; two of them were sold this month. With its size, vintage craftwork, and secluded setting, this home compares well to those.
Listing Agent: Dinny Dwyer, Jean Wright Real Estate, (847) 446-9166
2 days ago