A Storied Gold Coast Townhouse
For a closer look at the townhouse, launch the photo gallery »
List Price: $2.34 million
The Property: This four-story limestone townhouse built in the late 19th century is part of a block of nine known as the Fairbank Row Houses. They are named after Kellogg and Janet Ayer Fairbank, a high-society couple who lived in one of the homes and may have owned several of the others. The houses in the row were designed by the architect Charles Palmer for Potter Palmer (they may have been cousins), who built many of the homes in the Gold Coast.
For being nine separate homes, the row’s vintage look is surprisingly intact, including a nice ornamental cornice. But there’s one thing missing: the steps that originally led from the sidewalk to the homes’ second level, their main floor. The sellers’ agent, Nancy Joyce, says they may have been removed on orders of the architect David Adler, who lived in one of the homes as a newlywed. As a result, today’s home has its main living areas on the second floor, but the kitchen and dining room are one flight down. That slight inconvenience is mitigated by the fact that the kitchen opens onto a large rear yard shaded by big trees.
Those two floors and the two above, which house four bedrooms, have many great vintage details, including carved marble mantelpieces on the four fireplaces, hefty interior doors, and crown and other moldings. The living room and library on the second floor are quietly elegant rooms.
As you will see in the video, the library has high walls of shelving flanking the fireplace and a diamond-patterned wood floor. The master bedroom has a charming window bay and a dressing room, as well as a bathroom. One of the top-floor bedrooms is actually a suite, with a sitting room and a bedroom divided by a thin archway. The other has a skylight and a nice view into the neighborhood’s trees.
With tall windows at both the front and back of all the floors, the home receives a lot of daylight for an interior unit. “You can stand in one side and see light in the other side [of the house] because it’s only about 45 feet deep,” Joyce says. The sellers, Francis and Margaret Blair, have lived in the house since 1985; they are moving to another city, Joyce says.
Price Points: The most recent sale in the Fairbank Row Houses that I know of is the 2007 sale of the Fairbanks’ own home for $2.51 million. Also currently on the market is the home where Adlai Stevenson lived in the 1930s. It’s priced at $3.225 million. The kitchen and baths in that home have all been updated; those in today’s home have not.