A Mediterranean Villa in Highland Park
List Price: $2,895,000
The Property: It started life in 1907 as a cedar-clad Colonial, but in 1930 this Highland Park home underwent a transformation into a Mediterranean-style villa, complete with a giant wall of cut stone embracing the entrance, wrought iron balconies, and carved walnut doors in the main rooms.
All those features, as well as the leaded glass, plaster rope moldings, and other touches, were handcrafted. “The tradespeople were paid $40 dollars a week—during the Depression, when most people earned nine dollars a week,” says David Hoffman, who, with his wife, Barbara (a psychotherapist), has lived in the house since 1979.
A longtime North Shore and Chicago real-estate developer with Red Seal Homes, Hoffman takes a certain pride in that historical detail. It’s evidence of the care that went into the home then—and again in recent decades, when the Hoffmans renovated. As an example, the home’s distinctive copper gutters, tattooed with a raised vine-and-leaf pattern, can hardy be replicated today. But when making changes to the exterior, Hoffman diligently moved formerly unseen original gutters to visible spots to keep the look consistent.
The house and acre-and-a-half grounds have a welcoming attitude, from the vast front lawn through the large but relaxed living and dining rooms. Beyond them are a large sunroom addition with a wood ceiling and a former porch that’s now an enclosed room the Hoffmans use as an exercise studio (but would make a sunny, low-maintenance playroom for kids). The kitchen, installed more than 20 years ago, is nice but would most likely get renovated by new owners.
On the second floor are two children’s bedrooms (each with brightly colored vintage plumbing fixtures outside the walls but new works inside) and a master wing that, as I note in today’s video, is more like a “suite of suites.” With a bedroom, an office, a sitting room, two bathrooms, and three walk-in closets, it could easily be remapped as dual suites. Another large bedroom, with a bathroom, is on the top floor.
Behind the house is a large swimming pool surrounded by extensive landscaping. (The pool had been drained by the time we arrived to shoot photos and video, so we have no shots of it.) Hoffman says that he has found original plans for a somewhat grandiose pool terrace, but all that was built was a concrete and iron arched entrance. There are also formal gardens, a two-bedroom coach house, tall oak trees, and a lawn that tapers off into a tree-filled ravine.
Price Points: The house went on the market in July at $2.995 million. Last week the price came down to $2.895 million. I could not determine from Lake County records what the Hoffmans paid for the property in 1979, but it’s sort of irrelevant, given their many improvements and updates since then.