List Price: $1.995 million
Sale Price: $1.8 million
The Property: Judy Royko, the widow of the Pulitzer Prize–winning Chicago newspaper columnist Mike Royko, last Monday sold the 116-year-old Lincoln Park graystone she bought in 2003, six years after her husband’s death.
The façade of the 13-room house includes rusticated stones, a deep cornice, and an elliptical second-story balcony rounded by a gothic balustrade. According to the Designslinger blog, the house was designed in 1895 by the architect John Van Osdel II—the son of the man who’s recognized as Chicago’s first architect—as part of a trio of nearly identical homes for the three brothers who owned the Newman Brothers Piano Company. This one, according to Designslinger, was built for Charles Newman, who was later forced out of the company by his relatives.
The six-bedroom house stands on a large lot—about 42 feet by 126 feet (compared to the city norm of 25 feet by 125 feet)—and has, according to the listing sheet, original leaded glass windows, four fireplaces, and an updated kitchen. The master bedroom occupies a third-floor “penthouse level” with a spa bath and steam shower, large closets, and an additional room that could be an office or nursery.
Mike Royko’s first wife, Carol, died in 1979; in 1985, he married Judy Arndt—affectionately identified as “the blonde” in his columns. In 1992, the couple moved from Chicago to Winnetka, where, according to the Cook County Recorder of Deeds, they paid $1.06 million for a house on Old Green Bay Road. It was a California Craftsman–style home with gardens designed by Daniel Burnham, Jr. Mike Royko died in 1997. In 2004, after buying today’s Lincoln Park graystone, Judy Royko sold the Winnetka house for $1.8 million to neighbors who demolished it. I could not reach Judy Royko or her agent, Emily Sachs Wong, for comment.
Price Points: Royko was asking $2.695 million for the house when she first put it on the market, in July 2010, with another agent. That would have brought her a profit of more than 45 percent on her 2003 purchase price, an unrealistic hope given that average house prices in Lincoln Park have dropped 15.4 percent from their 2008 peak. Royko had dropped her asking price to $2.499 million before Wong got the listing earlier this year; she listed the house at $1.995 million. The final sale price was 2.7 percent less than what Royko had paid for the house eight years earlier.