Elmhurst’s Checkerboard Chimney Charmer
For a closer look at the house, launch the photo gallery »
List Price: $850,000
The Property: From first sight, it’s obvious that this Normandy-style home has a lot of history in Elmhurst. Built in 1930 as part of a subdivision of Norman and Tudor homes, it has a brick-and-stone façade capped with a checkerboard brick chimney, hand-worked wood beams, and a swooping roofline. It’s easy to see why it landed on the cover of a national builders’ magazine shortly after it was completed.
That magazine cover is inside the foyer, hung there by the present sellers, who themselves have a long history in Elmhurst. Tom Marcucci—who in 2009 ended his tenure as Elmhurst’s mayor and has been involved with many local institutions—and his wife, Mimi, bought the home in 1980 and have raised their five daughters in the house.
“We walked in the front door, saw this foyer with the staircase curving up and the windows at the top pouring sunlight down, and we wanted it,” Marcucci says. He adds that they were even more sold on the place once they got inside the living room, whose large stone fireplace, beamed ceiling, and leaded- and stained-glass windows “gave you the feeling of being in a castle—but one we could afford.”
The original house grew a bit snug for a large modern family, so about 20 years ago the Marcuccis nearly doubled its size. On the exterior they were careful to match the original brick, stone, and roofline. Inside, on the first floor, they expanded the kitchen and added a family room, which solved a problem with the original layout. The route from the house to the backyard used to be down a narrow gangway past the garage. Now sliding doors in the large family room open onto a terrace and the backyard. The expanded kitchen also got a casual dining area, which complements the original formal dining room.
Upstairs, the house now has four bedrooms, as well as some eccentric touches from various eras. As you will see in the video, the Marcuccis turned a former hallway closet into a phone booth for their five daughters. A past owner had installed a wall bookshelf in the master bedroom that concealed a rack for shotguns inside the wall. The Marcuccis kept it—though they assure me they haven’t used it for its original purpose—when converting that original master bedroom into a children’s shared bedroom. There are two other family bedrooms on that end of the house, one with a nice bay of windows and the other with a private bath.
At the rear of the second floor is the added-on master bedroom, a very large room whose three sides of windows pick up a similar configuration in the original. Next to it is a big master bath.
I first met Tom Marcucci in 2003, when for the second time Chicago dubbed Elmhurst one of the best Chicago suburbs (it got that honor in the October 1993 and March 2003 issues). In today’s video, he explains how this house is well situated to take advantage of many of the town’s assets: York Community High School; public and parochial elementary schools; Wilder Park; the town’s library and art museum; and its lively downtown.
Price Points: The Marcuccis paid $138,000 for the home in 1982, when it was half its present size and in need of many repairs. They acknowledge that their kitchen and master bath, both rehabbed in the early 1990s, are dated. “We decided not to spend money redoing them just so somebody could come in and redo them again to their taste,” Tom Marcucci says. Instead, they prepped the house for sale by taking care of things that aren’t subject to taste—they replaced the 30-year-old roof and gutters this year—and factored the condition of the kitchen and bath into their asking price.
NOTE: We have edited the original post to more accurately describe the rehab of the house’s interior.