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Building on the Past—Wilmette

List Price: $3.199 million
The Property: In 1910, John A. Nourse, a Chicago lumberman and veteran of the Civil War—where he served with the Chicago Board of Trade Battery—moved his family to a big new residence on a large lot in Wilmette. A century later, the neighborhood still has brick-paved streets, and the house remains a stately presence on its corner. But the place has been expanded and updated to provide for a 21st-century family, while keeping much of its early 20th-century charm intact…


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List Price: $3.199 million
The Property: In 1910, John A. Nourse, a Chicago lumberman and veteran of the Civil War—where he served with the Chicago Board of Trade Battery—moved his family to a big new residence on a large lot in Wilmette. A century later, the neighborhood still has brick-paved streets, and the house remains a stately presence on its corner. But the place has been expanded and updated to provide for a 21st-century family, while keeping much of its early 20th-century charm intact.

The formal foyer opens into large living and dining rooms via hefty pocket doors; both rooms contain lots of vintage details, but the dining room is the real showpiece, with its original gas lamps (converted for electricity), built-in cabinets, and millwork. Beyond these main rooms sits a large, modern kitchen/breakfast room combination enhanced by beadboard cabinetry. A row of family spaces occupies the back of the house: a fully enclosed family room with a fireplace, a large screened porch, and a big terrace that steps down to the very large backyard.

Much of this is the work of Bill and Marianne Shields, who bought the house in 1998 after it had been partially updated and expanded. They were living a few blocks away and coveted the home’s “expansion possibilities,” Marianne recalls. “Our family was growing, and we needed everything bigger.”

The couple not only pushed out the perimeter of the house—the property is on a little more than half an acre, the equivalent of three standard Wilmette lots—but also went down (greatly enlarging the basement) and up, brightening the dark third floor by removing a staircase wall to make that level feel more integrated into the second floor. The second floor now has five large bedrooms and an oversize laundry room. The master bedroom has its own bathroom and dressing room—rare for a historical home—and all the bedrooms have original transom windows.

“[The house] has a great vibe, from the minute you walk up onto that big front porch,” says Sue Hertzberg, the agent representing the house for sale now that all the Shields kids are grown. “It’s quite large, but with a lot of spaces where you feel like you can nestle in.” What’s more, downtown Wilmette, Plaza del Lago, and the Wilmette and Kenilworth Metra stations are within easy walking distance; Lake Michigan and Gillson Park are about five blocks away.

Price Points: Today’s house is one of four homes in Wilmette currently listed with prices of $3 million or more. In the recent past, the town has seen sales of about $6 million, $4.75 million, and $3.58 million.

Listing Agent: Sue Hertzberg of Coldwell Banker; 847-784-7351 or sue.hertzberg@cbexchange.com

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