The Hutchinson Street Historic District is a tiny enclave of distinctive large Prairie Style homes within the still-compact Buena Park, a National Register of Historic Places entry itself. The area doesn’t have the urbanity of the larger Uptown neighborhood, and is just out of Wrigley Field’s orbit with its rowdy gameday throngs. Being that Marine Drive at the east end of Hutchinson used to directly abut Lake Michigan (before New Deal era landfill widened the band of park space), you can picture this being some of the hottest land around with the rampant northbound growth at the turn of the last century. Coming on the later end of Hutchinson Street’s development, in 1913, is T.S. Urbain’s Mission Style house, a popular West Coast architecture seldom seen in Chicago.
The stucco home’s rhomboidal facade has a kooky inward slope on both sides and its footprint fills out most of the 50’ x 108’ lot, consigning most of the open space to the front yard. The sellers bought in 2005 for $1,475,000 and their contributions to the home include new mechanical systems, a remodeled chef’s kitchen, built-in storage, and professional landscaping with irrigation. They didn’t touch the protected façade because they didn’t need to. In a city landmark district, maintaining architectural accuracy on the block is paramount, something buyers need to come to terms with. “If there was any exterior damage, minor or major, you’d have to rebuild to exact historical specifications,” says listing agent Patrick Cullen of Conlon Real Estate.
The first thing you notice inside is the banquet-sized living room taking up nearly half the main level, noteworthy because many homes of this generation really pack in rooms. The importance of the grass cloth emblazoned foyer and stairwell is minimized, architecturally speaking, letting the living room with its huge arched windows and marble fireplace steal the show. Across the foyer is the formal dining room, a family room, and a new kitchen with cherry cabinets. Behind it all is the back patio, given over to dogs in colder months but a comfy enclosure the rest of the time.
The upstairs delivers four bedrooms including a master with built-in entertainment center and a marble bathroom. One small bedroom has white-painted wood floors to go with white walls, conjuring visions of Nantucket. A bonus space above the porte-cochere serves as a sunroom and a bright office is an outcropping at the back of the home.
A partially finished basement holds rec space, storage space, and a second office. To make it totally livable you’d probably want to excavate the floor at least a couple feet down to give 9’ headspace—no walk in the park, but an opportunity to add about 2,000 square feet of living space. To their credit, the sellers worked out a good system. They also own a studio in a parkside condo building a block away, which they exploited for its pool and gym and used for guest lodging.
At roughly 4,000 square feet, this isn’t close to being the largest house on the block. But it isn’t the smallest, either. The six houses by George Washington Maher on the 600-900 blocks of Hutchinson are huge and can easily fetch $3 or $4 million on the market. And there used to be a Frank Lloyd Wright nearby: the Joseph and Helen Husser House, a beautiful transitional work from 1899 demolished just 25 years later.