Every now and again, a coach house breaks free of its main house to become the stud on the block—or at least a sovereign entity with value of its own.
Few city homes ever had a coach house or garage large enough to attract single-family residential conversion, and those that have, in my experience, are generally quirky little misfits—great for a year or two in relative seclusion from the main street, but not big enough for a for family to call home. But this could be the exception: A for-sale Lincoln Park coach house on the 800 block of West Wrightwood with a million-dollar price tag.
The approach to the home is completely backwards. One enters through a gate, pushes past the garage, and follows a brick walk through the front yard to the door beneath a balcony. Gated and set in-between the garage and house, the front yard functions as a back yard. This is where the long-gone main house stood.
Redfin agent Greg Whelan was initially fed a story about a 1994 inferno that took out the house, along with several neighboring homes. “But I have it on good word that the Victorian came down long before the fire.” Whelan points out that the coach house appeared as a standalone listing going back at least to 1980, without evidence of a larger structure.
That doesn’t necessarily mean 1980 was the coach house’s first stint as residence. “It’s always so difficult to say exactly when [coach] conversions occurred,” adds Whelan. We do know that the structure dates to 1886 (per Cook County public records) and has been maintained in peak fitness.
The sellers, who moved out of state and were compelled to list, made limited updates to the home in their four years there. Each floor has a very different layout and feel, beginning with a seductive dining room and medium-sized open kitchen. The second level yields a living room with a wood-burning fireplace, custom mantle, higher ceilings, and a balcony. The master suite—admittedly on the smaller side—is behind the living room. The carpeted top level consists of a flex space with pocket doors separating what could be two bedrooms; one bedroom and an office; or, who knows, one very large closet.
Back outside, a plaque informs that this is a Wrightwood Neighbors Association Centennial Home—a passive preservation effort by a very hands-on community group to bring attention to older structures in an area ravaged by teardowns. This is just the sort of lot that would attract a new mini-mansion or 3-flat, but the property’s uncommon privacy and considerable charm may well hook another believer.
Price Points: The coach house’s last two sales have pushed $900,000: $870,000 in 2005 and $894,000 in 2010 after a $100,000 price reduction. In today’s more stable market, $999,900 isn’t far fetched. While there’s only one covered parking space, a garage-front parking pad accommodates two more vehicles. Nathan Brecht of Redfin is the listing agent, while Whelan, who worked for the sellers when they were the buyers, assists.