Evanston’s Medieval Fantasy House Sold in Just a Day

The turreted and beamed medieval manor was in the 1896 premiere issue of House Beautiful, and it’s been a showstopper ever since.

A recently sold house in Evanston

Photo: Dennis Rodkin

List Price: $2.25 million
Sale Price: $2.25 million
The Property: The lord and lady of this turreted and beamed medieval manor in Evanston sold it in one day, before it went on the open market, thanks both to its eye-popping historical architecture inside and out and to the fact that they were asking seven percent less than they had paid for it in 2005.

“It’s a spectacular home that’s incredibly whimsical and has architectural integrity,” says the listing agent, Amy Knepper. “But we adjusted the price for the current market. It’s the difference between getting it sold quickly and sitting there waiting for it to sell.”

Knepper sold the house as a pocket listing—a property that an agent shops around to fellow agents and their clients before putting it on the multiple-listing service. She says four potential buyers saw it the first day, one of them successfully offering to pay full price for it.

The house has been wowing onlookers since 1896, when it was the lead story in the first issue of House Beautiful magazine. At the time, House Beautiful was published in Chicago and run by Eugene Klapp, who used it to spout off about how “the homes of many of our richest citizens are furnished in execrable taste.”

But that didn’t apply to this home, with its beams and roof caps and roof finials and carved chimney outside (pauses for breath) and spiral stairs, many-mullioned windows, and general stateliness inside. All of that is still visible in the recent listing photos. In the article about this medieval manor, built in 1892 for Garrett Biblical Institute professor Charles F. Bradley and his wife, Susan, House Beautiful gushed that “the finding of a house where it is evident that thought has been used everywhere and which is in a fair way of approaching the ideal is always a great delight.”

By 2000, when the house was in need of a refresh, John and Sharon Watrous bought it for $650,000. They did a thorough renovation, paying close attention to historical details, they told me in late 2005, when they had sold it to take on another project house elsewhere in Evanston.

According to the Cook County Recorder of Deeds (CCRD), the 2005 buyers were Gabriel and Beth Rodriguez. I have not been able to reach them and Knepper declined to talk about them. The sale closed May 28.

Price Points: Knepper says that her sellers upgraded the landscaping and hardscaping in the back yard and finished the basement. She would not specify what they spent, so we don’t know their total investment in the house. All we can say for sure is that the sellers got seven percent less than they had paid.

(Note that while our January 2006 story, linked above, cited the sale price as $2.33 million—based on multiple listing service data provided by the selling agent—the price that was recorded in February 2006 by CCRD was $2.44 million. I can’t find the reason for the discrepancy, but went with CCRD’s price in comparisons to the 2013 sale price.)

Listing Agent: Amy Knepper of @Properties, 847-763-0200 and amyknepper@atproperties.com

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