List Price: $899,000
The Property: This 19th-century red brick house has been extensively-and, in some places, zanily-restored. The boldly painted cornice and entry only hint at the quirky details that William Lavicka, a longtime rehabber on Chicago’s West and South Sides, has included in his latest project.
Inside, there is a mix of restored objects-four of the five fireplaces are originals, their ornate wood mantels stripped of years of paint-and salvaged architectural gems: a snazzy Art Deco tin ceiling in a chevron pattern in the kitchen and the basement party room. There are also some unconventional touches, such as the 12-foot sunflower stalk on the master bedroom ceiling that is actually a functioning heat conduit painted green; the flower’s petals are old ceiling-fan blades.
Lavicka, who has restored dozens of old city homes over the last 35 years, bought this one for $160,000 in October 2003, his first project in the Bronzeville neighborhood, which extends from the lakefront to the Dan Ryan Expressway between 26th and 51st Streets. “The whole first floor had been eaten out by termites and was about ready to cave in,” he says. “It needed a lot of work, and that’s what I do.” The house did have some great basic features, including eight-foot-tall windows in the main rooms, sturdy brick construction, and towering trees on the lot and nearby.
In addition to the extensive rebuilding, Lavicka put a new two-story addition on the rear of the house (for a breakfast room and the master bedroom). He also trimmed the house with his characteristic flair. The kitchen has onyx countertops with copper edging and a mural on the floor depicting all the planets. Upstairs bathrooms have glass fanlights with hand-painted scenes of the rising and setting sun. And the stairs to the backyard have bowling balls atop their newel posts instead of the customary wood knob. “A lot of this is my dad entertaining himself,” says Amber Lavicka who, although not a real-estate agent, is handling the sale for her father.
Price Points: The $899,000 price tag is high for the historical sections of Bronzeville, where the top sale price recorded so far by the Multiple Listing Service of Northern Illinois is $705,500. (Some newly built homes on land formerly occupied by public housing and other structures have gone for more.) But the Lavickas aren’t concerned. “When you have something this unusual, you expect to wait for it to sell,” says Amber Lavicka. “We need to find the buyer who appreciates the care that’s been lavished on preserving it.” Adds her father: “I know that I’m above the game for the neighborhood, but they’re quickly catching up, so I put more money into it than I would have. I’m comfortable with that. You will rarely see a house as interesting as this.”
Listing representative: Amber Lavicka: 312-927-2792