List Price: $1.399 million
The Property: Typical of the mid-century modern houses designed by Keck & Keck, this house in Budlong Woods presents to the street a low, somewhat inscrutable profile and then opens big inside: the L-shaped, 1,000-square-foot living and dining area has a 38-foot-long south wall that is virtually all windows.
And while the house has a lot of the Keck standards—in particular, the louvered mini-windows next to the outsized picture windows, which let air circulate without breaking up the view—it is a rarity in two ways: It’s on Chicago’s Northwest Side, instead of on the North Shore, where Keck homes are more common; and it has a two-bedroom addition that was done by the Kecks themselves. Many Keck homes, built with modest two- or three-bedroom floor plans after World War II, have had extra bedrooms and other spaces tacked on in ways that don’t quite fit with the original, modular layout.
Built in 1946—the year William Keck joined the architecture firm started by his brother, George Fred Keck—the house resides in Budlong Woods, the only city neighborhood named for a pickle farm. The North Branch of the Chicago River, lined by parkland and a bike trail, is only a block away. In 2004, Avi Ron, a cofounder of the real-estate company Dream Town, bought the house with his wife, Jennifer (they have since divorced). At first, the seller resisted selling the house to a real-estate developer. “He thought I would tear this down,” Ron says, laughing. “Never.”
Five years ago, the house was in “OK” condition, Ron says, but it had been updated in ways that “lost touch with its 1950s feeling. And I love the 1950s.” Ron launched an extensive renovation, preserving many vintage touches, including the hefty brick fireplace at the home’s center, the cabinet-style closets, and one period-piece bathroom. He moved some original Keck shelving from a bedroom into the dining room, installed authentic light fixtures from the period, and otherwise took the house back to its prime—with the help of a few suitable contemporary touches: glass-front garage doors; an all-stainless steel kitchen that takes the modernist “machine for living” thing seriously; and iridescent oil-finish tile on some of the façade to give the place a dash of visual sizzle.
Price Points: Ron paid $800,000 for the house in 2004; he would not disclose what he spent on renovations. The property that is for sale encompasses three city lots. The list price does not include a buildable 8,250-square-foot fourth lot that is currently the western portion of this home’s garden. To buy the fourth lot with the home, a buyer would have to spend $1.999 million.
Listing Agent: Jennifer South of Dream Town, 312-613-8021; Jennifer.firstname.lastname@example.org