This $745,000 Home Puts the “Pow!” in Powhatan

The 1920s building on Chicago’s south lakefront, with 4,300-square-foot units like this, is one of the city’s treasures.


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List Price: $745,000
The Property: When you come into the Powhatan, on Chicago’s south lakefront, you know immediately that you’re in one of the city’s treasures. Phenomenal details surround you, starting on the exterior, one of the most visible Art Deco compositions in the city, familiar to many people who travel down Lake Shore Drive. You enter through a rotunda where there are tile mosaics around the ceiling, and on into the lobby, where tall pilasters and tile mosaics line the room and a gorgeously detailed fireplace stands at the far end.

The Powhatan was built in the 1920s as part of a move toward luxurious living in apartments, which is why it was filled with such nice details. It’s not just the visuals; some of the details were service, including elevators that were then and still are staffed. For this 19th-floor unit, the elevator delivers you into straight inside, via its own private elevator lobby.

Because the Powhatan sits close to the shore, this home’s large living room is surrounded by views of the lake and the park. Originally two rooms, the living room has been opened up to embrace that view; it’s now 43 feet long. It still has a lot of the great historical details: the very high windows, curved-edged bookcases built in around some of the windows, a nice fireplace, high ceilings with crown moldings, and gorgeous herringbone floors that run throughout the condo. There’s one detail that, though it isn’t original, suits the vintage of the building. A millwork wall at one end of the living room hides a TV in one section and in another, a nice bar that fits right in with the 1920s feeling of the home.

Next door is a dining room, similarly detailed, that looks straight out at the lake, which is a wonderful thing for a dinner party in the evening.

The interior decorating makes a smart organic connection to the parkland that lies outside the windows: in the foyer, where there’s a gigantic thistle pattern on the walls, and in the kitchen, oversized poppies. The kitchen includes a large pantry that still has its original countertops but also has brand new laundry machines. The second, larger part of the kitchen has a very stylish look made up of a mix of metal-fronted and white cabinets, and black backsplashes.

All the grace of the formal room extends into the master bedroom, a large space whose two alcoves next to south-facing window keep it from being a simple box. There’s also a dressing room and a master bath, whose tile is the original, in green. In another bath down the hall, the tile is pink.

There are two smaller family bedrooms facing north, and at the back of the unit, a very large room that was and could be again a bedroom. Now used as a family room, it has nice woodwork all around, including handsome corner bookshelves. This bedroom and the fourth both still have lake views, but at this end of the home, they also look onto the Narragansett, a companion building whose exterior is a delight to look at.

Powhatan residents are surrounded by beauty, but also by nice amenities. They include a rooftop deck that has spectacular views on all sides and surrounds a beautiful Art Deco ballroom, and down at ground level, an indoor swimming pool whose detailing is stunning. It would be a great place for a kid to go and swim. And if you were that child, you might come back to this 19th floor condo, to the rear bedroom with its views of the Narragansett and the entire south lakefront and skyline.

Surrounded by all that beauty, you might grow up to do some beautiful things yourself.

Price Points: The seller, Susan Tjarksen, paid $595,000 for the 4,300-square-foot home in 2007; she upgraded the kitchen and finishes in many parts of the house. She originally put it on the market three years ago with an asking price of $995,000.

Separate from the purchase price is assessments, which are $4,000 a month. Listing agent Liliana Lark acknowledges that that’s steep, but explains that it includes not only the usuals—utilities, parking—but an unusually high level of service. “They’ll come in and change a lightbulb for you if you want,” she says. “The service is at the [level] of a five-star hotel or assisted living.”

Listing Agent: Liliana Lark of MetroPro, 773-501-1913 and llark@metroprorealty.com

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