The latest home to hit the market on Lake View’s “street of 40 doors”—Alta Vista Terrace—is a tidy three-bedroom with blue-grey brick, ornate exterior crown molding, and a rooftop filial. Its façade recurs across the street at the opposite end of the block, the staggered repetition planned by developer Samuel Eberly Gross—who built thousands of houses across the region—to give the street the variety and intimacy of a centuries-old London row. These are compact, though not tiny, houses on snug lots. You’d certainly not imagine Wrigley Field was a block away.
“In summer evenings kids run up and down the block and parents are out there sipping wine,” says Kathy Morgan, the 10-year owner of the home with husband Scott. “Our son and daughter grew up on the street and it’s still packed with kids.” Morgan, who keeps contact info for everyone on the block, praises the neighborliness of Alta Vista and hopes to find its equal in the family’s next stop: Glen Ellyn.
There’s livability to the 2,500-square-foot house that will be hard to replicate, too. The open common rooms are just large enough to entertain groups but small enough to curtail shouting from one end to the other. Exposed brick makes an unexpected visit in the living room and the dining room has a plaster and marble fireplace and an original leaded glass built-in cabinet. These details remind potential buyers of the house’s age: 111 years and counting.
Except for a newer breakfast room ballooning off the back, the floor plan is what it was in 1904. There have been modifications, of course. For starters, the basement is finished as a carpeted rec space with a bar nook. And the master suite is a combination of two small bedrooms (there used to be four). There are walled-off fireplaces in each bedroom, evidence of another era in zoned heating. If a new owner wants to expand living space, partial third-floor additions that scoot back from the landmarked façade and streetscape have proven popular on the block.
Being on the west side of the block brings a little extra lot depth for the possibility of usable yards, patios, and garages. The Morgans didn’t cram in a garage because street parking hasn’t been an issue, and it meant they could build a broad patio with a picnic area, grill station, and parking pad when needed. If a new owner wanted to expand living space, The east side has not much more than crawl spaces between house and alley, so many homeowners have compensated with roof decks.
This and several other homes on the blocks were split-level rentals in the middle of the last century. “A man came by recently who used to rent here in the 60s,” says Morgan. “He was right out of the service and with his roommate used to park cars for the Bears games at Wrigley.” (The Bears played at Wrigley until 1970, when they moved to Soldier Field.) The neighboring house at the end of the row was the last to be converted back to single-family, only a few years ago.
Price Points: At $769,000, this is the least expensive Alta Vista home to list for sale since the neighboring corner home went for $620,000 in March of 2013. On average, two of the 40 homes on the block change hands each year. Last June, another two-floor model on the shallower side of the street sold for $835,000 or about $10,000 above list price; and last month, the block saw its priciest sale to date—a renovated three-floor, 3,400-square-foot greystone with a new garage that fetched $937,000, almost a quarter million more than its 2012 price.