The Property: This 15-room Gold Coast townhouse has an ornate limestone façade, though not much vintage detail left inside. But what the interior lacks in period finishes, it makes up for with lots of room (8,100 square feet) and natural light—the latter courtesy of the driveway-wide private space that separates this place from its neighbor to the immediate south. There are also lovely old plaster moldings (now painted over), high ceilings, five fireplaces—and, half a block away, the lawns and gardens at the south end of Lincoln Park.
The home’s exterior, composed of arches, brackets, and frames, is the mid-1890s work of the Prairie Style architect George Washington Maher (who also designed three dozen houses in Kenilworth, as well as landmark residences in Oak Park and Kenwood and on Uptown’s Hutchinson Street). In 2000, the façade played a small part in the Helen Hunt–Mel Gibson movie What Women Want, in which Hunt supposedly buys the top two floors of the four-story (plus basement) house.
Had the movie moved indoors, Hunt’s character would have had plenty of kitchen: in fact, the house has five kitchens, four of them a remnant of its stint as an apartment building. In the 1970s, William Bass, who is now deceased, bought the place and turned it back into a single residence. “He didn’t mind the extra kitchens, so he kept them,” says Louise Study, the Rubloff agent representing the property for Bass’s estate. The main kitchen is new and, Study says, was never used before Bass’s death. The smallest is a tiny kitchenette in what was once a studio apartment in the basement.
Price Points: The house is spacious, sturdy, and well maintained, so buyers could move right in. It is more likely, though, that they would want to restore some vintage finishes and remove at least a couple of kitchens—and one of the two interior staircases could feasibly make way for an elevator. Just how much buyers would end up spending depends on how far they might want to take the project.
Seller: The estate of William Bass
Listing Agent: Louise Study, Rubloff, (312) 368-5300