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This Bold A-Frame in Highland Park Is $730,000

The exciting, harmonious design of this three-bedroom really surprises on this sleepy block.

The radical A-frame, blocks from the Botanic Garden and Ravinia Festival.   Photo: Courtesy of Coldwell Banker

Price: $729,900

An A-frame shot full of whimsy is for sale near the Highland Park-Glencoe line. The ancient European and Asian style, brought into American vernacular in the 1960s, here is crossbred with modernist introversion for the privacy of a bunker and the openness of a cathedral. It also reads from the street as an intentional ruin—a quarter of the roof is hollowed out with trees from a walled courtyard puncturing the skeletal frame. The entrance is to the side, down a long covered walkway and rock garden.

Albert R. Belrose designed the three-bed in 1963 for his own family, before anyone was tinkering with the classic A-Frame. He finished the home in natural materials—large stone in the floors, unvarnished cedar paneling, and brick. The interior aesthetic captures elements of Prairie style, especially in window panes and lighting design, Far East pagoda, and log cabin.

Coldwell Banker’s Carol DeGrazia Santi has handled the sale three times since the late 1990s, when she sold the home for Belrose. The second owner made a raft of upgrades, particularly to windows, mechanicals, and appliances, and the current sellers (names withheld), in the space since 2009, have added living space in the basement, bar seating at the middle of the great room, a new deck and gazebo, and a new shingle roof. Another big contribution is in furnishings, eclectic as the architecture with antique leather upholstery and a player piano (going strong during my visit). Bathroom upgrades would be next on the list were they to stay, extending the polished stone which starts in the outdoor walkway and carries into the foyer.

The home’s combined dining and living areas spread out under the steeply pitched 30-foot ceiling and rear window wall. Another small window to the lush interior courtyard occupies one corner, and Prairie-style brick fireplace another. The glass bar space defines the border of living and dining areas and a cavernous kitchen with a coffered ceiling connects to the dining area. According to Santi, the open loft level perched dramatically in the living room’s airspace was intended as the master bedroom but both owners since Belrose have preferred to see it as a family room. There are, after all, three sizable bedrooms offering greater privacy.

The sellers, who lived downtown in lofts and high-rises for a number of years before this purchase and built houses in the suburbs during the boom, are throwing the towel in and moving to Arizona to escape winter. They are confident the home is worth $729,900 and then some, but this is the price the current market dictates. There really aren’t great sales comps. The best I could dig up is a 1970s four-bed around the corner with a little more space but fewer updates that sold for $705,000 more than a year ago. A few blocks north a 1980s modernist house with similar square footage and equally robust interior design is listed for $799,000.

Just outside the home you can faintly hear the brass section letting loose at Ravinia Festival, at the top of the hill a few blocks away, during afternoon practice. The Botanic Garden is even closer, and doesn’t make a peep.

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