From Bathhouse to Your House, in East Village

List Price: $2.2 million
The Property: In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, working-class immigrants were pouring into Chicago, many of them into housing with little or no indoor plumbing. In response, the city built 19 bathhouses, where people could go to clean up…


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List Price: $2.2 million
The Property: In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, working-class immigrants were pouring into Chicago, many of them into housing with little or no indoor plumbing. In response, the city built 19 bathhouses, where people could go to clean up. One of them—the Lincoln Bath House, built in 1918 in the part of West Town now known as East Village—was converted into a private residence in the late 1980s.

Because the building looks slim from the street, it’s a surprise to find just how much space is behind the pillar-framed entry doors. Beyond an entry vestibule lies a vast main room, 30 feet wide and 58 feet deep, beneath 14-foot-high ceilings. Windows occupy the entire 58-foot north wall, infusing the room with daylight. The seller, Kai Hielscher, used this room as one large living room, says his agent, John Robert Anderson, but it’s big enough to be divvied up among several uses—divided either informally by furniture groupings or formally by new walls.

Behind the main room and sharing its double-sided fireplace is a large kitchen, still with the high ceilings. There’s lots of room here for an informal dining area. Next to it is a group of rooms that have been used as a very large master suite, with an oversize sitting room or library leading to the very large bedroom, which may have originally contained a few dozen showers. The bedroom windows overlook the courtyard formed by the building’s L shape. There’s also a shelf-lined office and two smaller bedrooms, each with a sleeping loft and a bathroom, though the bedroom at the front of the house has only a partial bath, with no shower or tub.

Granted, it’s not many rooms, but together they contain about 9,400 square feet of living space. (As you will see in the video, Hielscher has already moved out, so the lack of furnishings in these large spaces makes them seem even larger.) Downstairs is a rentable apartment that is almost the same size and, Anderson says, has tall windows that also fill the space with daylight.

Outside are a landscaped garden and a big deck leading out from part of the living room. As Anderson and I enjoyed that sunny space last week, we agreed that a new owner would be wise to extend the deck the 58-foot length of the living room and expand some of the window openings into doorways, thus enhancing the conjunction of indoors and outdoors. Anderson also envisions a new owner placing an addition atop the house that might group family bedrooms together. Another option: a green-roofed garage where there’s now an in-yard parking space. Like the old Lincoln Bath House itself, the list of possibilities is vast.

Price Points: Hielscher put the property on the market about six months ago, at the current asking price. “What we’re selling here is the width,” Anderson says. “Where a normal lot is 25 feet wide, this is 65 feet, and because the building is pushed to the [south and east] lot lines, you get all the outdoor space together in one place, not broken up into side yards you can’t use.” The home is also available for rent, at $5,000 a month.

Listing Agent: Robert John Anderson of Baird & Warner; 312-980-1580 or Robert@robertjohnanderson.com

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