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List Price: $1,574,900
The Property: Just off the thriving Armitage Avenue shopping strip, on a Lincoln Park street filled with homes from different eras, stands a house that watched them all arrive. Built in 1861 as the farmhouse for a truck farm that delivered its produce into Chicago, the house still has several of its original elements. The ornate gingerbread on its Victorian façade, the front porch, and even the wrought-iron fence are all believed to date to the home’s construction.
In an early 1990s renovation, many original features on the inside were preserved—and in some cases extended. As you will see in today’s video, the original plaster moldings around the living room ceiling were duplicated in the dining room, and the leaded glass in the main window bay was echoed in a leaded-glass front door. The living room has high ceilings, lots of daylight, and an old limestone mantel around a onetime coal-burning fireplace. The window and door trim there and in the adjoining dining room is antique, though probably not original.
The house was rundown and a candidate for demolition in the early 1990s. That’s when a renovation partnership bought it from the family that had owned the property for about 90 years. Working with the architect Richard Gibbons and their client, George Matkov (one of the present sellers), the renovators expanded the house with a rear addition about half its size.
The addition created some much needed space on both floors of the house. On the first floor, the addition created a big open combo of kitchen, informal dining room, office, and family room spaces, all looking out to a large porch that mimics the one out front. Upstairs the addition contains a rear bedroom and a second-story porch. Adding that bedroom made it possible to combine a few rooms at the front of the house into a master suite that has a big bedroom with a historical window bay and an original fireplace, as well as a skylit master bath and a big closet. There are three bedrooms in all on the second floor and another in the basement.
The two rear porches look out not only at neighboring historical structures but also at the home’s backyard. In part of the garden, Matkov and his wife, Nancy Churchill, grow some vegetables, a tribute of sorts to what was going on here 150 years ago.
Price Points: The Cook County Recorder of Deeds reports that the renovators paid $258,000 for the derelict place in May 1991. A year later, when only partially renovated, the property was sold to Matkov for $560,000. I do not know Matkov’s total investment in the house, which also included upgrading the basement into livable space with a family room and a bedroom.