List Price: $1,050,000
Sale Price: $975,000
The Property: One of five Prairie-style townhouses on a corner in Hyde Park, this home originally belonged to Robert A. Millikan, a University of Chicago physicist who won the Nobel Prize for his work on electrons and on the photoelectric effect.
Millikan lived in the townhouse from 1907 until 1921, when he left Chicago to become president of Caltech. His Nobel, awarded in 1923, was for work he had begun in 1909, while he was working at the U. of C. and living in this home.
David Meltzer and Vineet Arora, both professors at the university’s Pritzker Medical School, bought the six-bedroom, three-story house on February 1st, and they immediately began an extensive restoration. “There are many layers of history there,” Meltzer says, “and we keep discovering surprises.” For instance, some ornamentation that had been painted over first appeared to be made of wood; it actually turned out to be plaster.
Meltzer and Arora have not yet moved into the 12-room home. “We’re basically stripping away 100 years of paint to see how close we can get [the home] to its pure [original] look,” Meltzer says. “But we’re being realistic about how much change has been made.” At some point in the home’s history, a rear staircase for servants was removed, and room layouts were opened up for a more modern and informal plan. “We can’t change that,” Meltzer says. “The servants aren’t coming back.”
As to living in the onetime home of a Nobel laureate, Meltzer says, “The university is always proud of its Nobel Prize winners, so that’s fun.”
Price Points: The couple bought from sellers who had paid $1.285 million for the house five years ago—which means Meltzer and Arora got a 24-percent discount on that 2005 sale price. (The sellers had owned the house as a Limited Liability Company, and their names are not in public records.) “We were very fortunate,” Meltzer says. “The market declined, and there was some deferred maintenance that needed to be done on the house.” Another member of the so-called Professor’s Row cluster sold last year for $750,000; when I wrote about that home in a January 2008 blog, it was priced at $1.95 million. The townhouse between that home and today’s property is currently on the market with a price tag of $1.495 million.
Listing Agent: Diane Silverman of Urban Search; 312-337-2400 or firstname.lastname@example.org