Walk through what Beata Banas has turned from a church (actually half of one) to a 5,000-square-foot home.
List price: $975,000
The Property: While searching for a home, Zbigniew and Beata Banas became accidental developers. They found a property they liked—a shuttered church in the Irving Park neighborhood on Chicago’s Northwest Side—but the building, a simple peaked structure with a spire piercing its roof, proved far too large for just one residence. So the Banases split the church in half. They are now living in the rear portion and selling the front, which Beata, a professional space planner, has transformed into a visually striking 5,000-square-foot space.
Her most dramatic touch is the ironwork on the main stairs and balcony. The stairs’ handrail is a slithering run of iron that perforates the wall and seems to drip out the other side; the balcony railing is a textured web of iron. (To complement those features, the Banases will eventually install a decorative canopy and handrails out front.) A Chihuly-esque starburst chandelier crowns the round vestibule, and a multitextured fireplace divides the living and dining rooms.
Beata has also retained some of the modest church’s best features, including the 25-foot ceilings of the sanctuary and an oversized round window above the soaking tub that frames a big tree out front. The most fun remnant: in the second-floor hallway, two ropes hanging on the wall stretch up through a skylight to the church’s bell. And though they replaced an outdoor statue of Jesus with an abstract sculpture, the Banases left the cross atop the church’s steeple. “We’re going to let the buyers decide if they want to keep that,” Zbigniew says.
The building dates to the early 1960s, when a small group of Catholics formed their own sect in protest of the Vatican II reforms. Its members died off until ultimately the church’s pastor was transferred to a congregation in another state. He took the building’s stained glass with him, Zbigniew says.
A film critic for Polish newspapers, Zbigniew has dubbed the building Villa Beata, both in tribute to his wife’s design skills and because “the name means ‘blessed,’ so it goes back to this building’s origins.” The couple’s rehab and reuse of the building earned them a Good Neighbor Award from the Chicago Association of Realtors earlier this month.
Price Points: Sales over $900,000 are not rare in Irving Park, although they have all been for single-family homes—either new construction or some of the bigger older homes in the neighborhood. This one doesn’t impress much from the outside, but the interior spaces are exciting and innovative. (The outside impression might be stronger when the last of the exterior details have been installed.) And besides, none of those $900,000-plus homes came with its own steeple bell.
Listing Agent: Bohdan Gorczynski of Koenig & Strey GMAC, 312-893-1364; email@example.com. The condo, at 4154 West Berteau Avenue, will be open for tours by prospective buyers on Sunday, June 22nd, from 2 to 4 p.m.