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List Price: $2.599 million
The Property: In the years just after the Great Chicago Fire—whose 141st anniversary is Monday—the prolific architect Edward Burling put up numerous buildings in the city, including, in 1875, a string of ten row houses on the Lincoln Park street that now bears his name. They’re brick, with carved Italianate trim running along the cornice line and above the windows.
Because of its large front porch, one row house is especially prominent. At 21 feet wide, it’s also a little broader and, thanks to a new addition, deeper than the rest. Diane Heller, who lives nearby, bought the house in 2011 and has renovated and expanded the entire interior, but with a careful attention to historical detail. That’s evident in the way she picked up the crossed-arrows motif on the original front door for a new cover for the skylight that hangs over the staircase.
That skylight and several others help resolve a problem with old row houses: the lack of natural light anywhere but in the front and back. In this house, a few side windows, both old (in the dining room) and new (in the kitchen), also help out. The living and dining rooms have a terrific vintage feeling with their bay windows, high ceilings, crown and baseboard moldings, and a large fireplace. Heller’s elegant but understated finishes provide some contemporary panache. Behind them is the new section of the main floor, a large space that contains kitchen, breakfast, and sitting areas. The white kitchen cabinetry stacks all the way to the 12-foot ceiling, and the island and appliances add to the luxury.
The listing agent, Millie Rosenbloom, says that Heller bought and rehabbed the house for a relative who then ended up moving out of state. “It was all done to be the best for this family member,” Rosenbloom says. Even the infrastructure was updated. “That’s everything, down to the plumbing,” Rosenbloom says. It’s essentially a new house behind a historical façade.
Updating the plumbing really helped upstairs. In a previous overhaul, bedroom floors had been raised to accommodate new pipes. That made for a lot of stepping up and down. Heller’s renovation did away with all that: because the walls were ripped apart, new plumbing could be tucked in. Now the two front bedrooms and the shared bath have a more comfortable flow.
The master is all about comfort. The bathroom is large, the master closet spacious, and the big bedroom has high ceilings, a fireplace, and windows wrapping a sitting area at the rear of the addition. In the basement, not fully finished before Heller’s purchase, there is now a fourth bedroom and a large family room with stairs to the backyard. The garage looks more like a cottage, with sliding doors, dormer windows, and a cupola. The yard is an intimate space; for larger-scale outdoor enjoyment, there’s Oz Park at the south end of the block and, a few blocks east, all the glories of Lincoln Park.
Price Points: Heller bought the house for $1.56 million in June 2011. Rosenbloom says that the addition, which almost doubled the above-ground square footage, and the extensive down-to-the-studs rehab cost “at least” the difference between the purchase price and the present asking price.
4 months ago