This Delightful, Unique Evanston Foursquare Is $539,000

The handsome 1911 four-bedroom, on the market for the first time in 45 years, has lots of space, a beautiful addition, and an explosion of custom woodwork.

The Seward Street property, boxed in by low-rise multi-family and sheltered by oak and pine.   Photo: Ian Spula

Price: $539,000

Here’s one way to get a good price for a dashing vintage Foursquare in a great community: Just look for one wedged between multi-unit buildings.

The sellers of such a place, on Seward Street in Evanston’s Ridgeville Park district, lived happily here for 45 years. Old age prompted Don and Sue Borah to list the four-bedroom house last week and move to a co-op in downtown Evanston.

The home is near to the Main Street shopping strip, Metra station, and the South Boulevard el. Beaches and the big city aren’t far off. Large oaks and pines, front and back, further remove the house from the streetscape and a bed of ivy stands in for lawn.

The Borahs wholly reshaped their home over the four decades. Don took an interest in locating finely crafted cabinetry, shelving, and trim to complement original built-ins. These pieces arrived through salvage and inheritance and Don labored to install them as if they’d been part of the 1911 construction. “I salvaged several cabinets from a closed Chicago Public School,” he said. “They were going to burn them.”

Beyond the built-ins, the Borahs embarked on a big addition many years ago. At the rear of the house, they took down the outside wall on two sides and pushed out several hundred square feet of new den, eat-in conservatory, and multi-level deck. This complex was built with bright, earthy materials, still favoring ornate woodwork, and has great flow.

The remainder of the main level has gracious living and dining areas, an enclosed front porch, and a sleek white kitchen, all displaying the sellers’ deft hand in restoring and rebuilding. The upper level is set up for three bedrooms and a study, but could work as four bedrooms. Two of the bedrooms are tandem style, with step-down seating areas with skylights. The study was a focal point for Don’s handiwork, and it comes ringed with built-in glass door shelving.

There’s still room to add some new personality to this space, too. The full, unfinished attic and basement are a blank canvas for expanding living area and adding value to this unique property.

Price Points: In the interest of full disclosure, there are other factors depressing the home’s list price. One is the home’s shortage of bathrooms by modern standards: one full- and one half-bathroom. Another is the lack of central air conditioning, which will give pause to the discriminating buyer.

Here’s the good news: If that stuff isn’t a huge deal to you, the nearby comps illustrate just how sexy a price $539,000 is for this much house. Last year Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices listing agent Roberta Brennan sold her similarly sized home one block south for $710,000. A comparatively tiny house around the corner on Sherman Avenue with no garage is also on the market for $539,000. Neither has the look or the hand-built delicacy, inside and out, of today’s featured property.

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