A Sexy Chicago Landmark Home Is Back on the Market

Take a look inside the Gold Coast’s Florsheim Mansion.


For a closer look at the house, launch the photo gallery »
 

List Price: $2.199 million
The Property: The Gold Coast’s Florsheim Mansion is a house that really flirts with the eye. On the street-front, glass-block walls curve one way and then another, and then seduce you into an arcade entrance.

It’s a landmark home, and one of Chicago’s sexiest. It was for sale for a few years, then it was rented. It was put on the market again last month, so you could say they’re bringing sexy back.

So let’s take it to the bridge that connects two townhouses that were built in the 1930’s by Andrew Rebori. The front one facing the street was Rebori’s own home. In the 1940’s, Rebori sold them to Lillian Florsheim, and in the 1950’s, she had her son-in-law Bertrand Goldberg connect them to make it all one house. The bridge he built has the kitchen inside.

What he created outside was a really wonderful courtyard where you can imagine entertaining. Guests can come in through that arcade tunnel to a nice, placid space in the middle of the Gold Coast. When they want to go inside, they can enter from either of the original townhouses or use the sweet spiral staircase that goes right into the kitchen.

There inside the bridge, the kitchen that Goldberg designed is still pretty much intact. It’s got a great glam look with glossy black cabinetry and streamlined handles, and one wall that bows outward over the courtyard. Goldberg, of course, built a lot of curves at Marina City, Prentice Hospital, and elsewhere. Here, he used the curve to make a galley kitchen feel a little larger. He lined it with fiberglass panels to let in some light, but if you want to look out into the courtyard and want even more light to come in, you might replace those and maybe some of the backsplash with glass. Although it’s a galley kitchen, it’s very big and doesn’t feel cramped—and what’s nice about this bridge being placed between the two original townhouses is that you end up with a great floorplan that we might design today: On one side, what were the living and dining room of the front townhouse retain those functions, and then on the other side of the kitchen, the other former living room is now a large family room.

Today’s living room has a very pretty fireplace by Rebori and rising up one side is that great curved glass-block wall that faces the sidewalk.

At the other end of the house—did I say sexy?—in what’s now the family room, Rebori designed great details including a two-story corner wall of glass block, that brings in filtered light in the daytime as well as at night, thanks to highrises in the neighborhood. There’s also a huge, fantastic fireplace with a layered brick look, which has lines that pick up some of Rebori’s brick framing around the exterior windows.

There’s also a detail to notice down at the bottom of the walls: the molding is lifted just a bit off the floor and dark beneath, so that you’ve got a reveal that makes the floors seem to slide all the way through. Something else I love is the sculpted wood handrail—painted in the former front townhouse but still with its original sleek dark line in the rear townhouse.

In the study or media room are details by another artist who worked here, Edgar Miller. His eccentric woodwork and tilework liven up the bookshelves in the study and some other parts of the house. On the lower level, some tile is his and some is tile that the present owners put in to complement his work.

The kitchen and main living rooms are on the main floor, with additional levels above and below. There are a total of five bedrooms.

The master, on the top floor front, has more of the street-facing glass block curve as part of a two-story shaft bringing up light from the living room. Another detail here in the master that is seen elsewhere in the house are the sensuous curved walls. And then there’s the bathroom, with a glam look provided by glittery tile. There are five bathrooms with a similar feeling. Each has different artful tile, curvilinear vanities, and big Hollywood mirrors. It’s a very sexy look.

Price Points: Seller Russ Rosenzweig bought the house in 2006 for $2.23 million (see the bottom item here). Later divorced, he put it on the market in 2010, asking more than the present price. Asking 98% of what he paid in 2006 is appropriate, says listing agent Michael Rosenblum, “because this is a jewel in the city—a great piece of design you can live in—and so much of the original from the cultural moment that made this home is still intact here for somebody who appreciates it.” The home has a two-car interior garage on the alley, and some finishes need restoration or updating.

Listing Agent: Michael Rosenblum of Koenig & Strey Real Living; 312-893-8162 or mrosenblum@koenigstrey.com

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