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List Price: $2.1 million
The Property: There’s nothing junior about the Marshall Field Jr. mansion. Now containing six condominiums but once a 43-room house, the red-brick Queen Anne building looms large, both physically and metaphorically, over the most historic stretch of Prairie Avenue.
In 1905, when the neighborhood was home to many of Chicago’s finest mansions and most elite families, Marshall Field, Jr. died in his bedroom in the house—most likely after being shot at the Everleigh Club, the opulent (and notorious) brothel that once stood in the 2100 block of South Dearborn Street. Later, the house sat empty for decades, declining along with the rest of the neighborhood until the stunning revival of Prairie Avenue and the South Loop in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
When the developer Bob Burk’s UrbanStreet Properties was starting to rehab the mansion, Hermene Hartman, the publisher of N’Digo, happened by and became smitten with Burk’s vision for the place—even though, as she told me, “he was still in the ‘What the hell are we going to do with this?’ phase.” Planning a move up to the South Loop from Hyde Park with her mother, Hartman bought the mansion’s largest and most expensive unit and teamed up with Burk and Van Tullis Interiors to create a home with exquisite finishes and architectural details. “I caught enough of Bob’s vision to be dangerous,” Hartman said.
As you will see in today’s video, the condo has two bedroom suites—one a master with a big sitting area and a large bathroom, and the other with a bedroom, a sitting room, and a bath—on part of the building’s fourth floor; the living spaces—including the living room, the dining room, an office, a butler’s pantry, and a suburban-size kitchen, breakfast area, and family room combo are on the third floor. The front rooms on that floor open into a large foyer and are designed for both entertaining and comfort; they have high ceilings and offer nice views of the neighborhood through tall windows. The fireplace in the living room, while not original, is a tall stone composition designed, Hartman said, so “we can reenact the elegant way they [the Fields] lived here.”
The kitchen/family room has a fireplace, a walk-out balcony with its original heavy stone balustrade, and the home’s rear exit, which leads downstairs to the unit’s two parking spaces in the building’s garage. Outside the mansion are formal garden spaces shared by all the residents. (When we shot the video last week, some work was being done on the front of the building, so the façade is not visible in the photos or the video; here is a good picture of the building’s front elevation shot before the landscaping was in place.) Nearby are the serene Chicago Women’s Park, the Clarke and Glessner house museums, and the Cafe Society restaurant with its tree-shaded patio.
Price Points: Hartman paid $1.757 million for the space in November 2006, according to the Cook County Recorder of Deeds, but she declined to say what her additional costs were for upgrades, finishes, and furnishings. Because of the challenge her elderly mother faces using stairs, Hartman listed the property for sale last spring, asking $2.2 million; she cut the price by $100,000 in August.