List Price: $1,350,000
Sale Price: $1,175,000
The Property: One week ago, unidentified buyers closed on the sixth and final condo in the gigantic old Marshall Field Jr. mansion at 1919 South Prairie Avenue in Chicago’s South Loop. An eight-room unit with some 4,100 square feet of living space, the condo fills the rear half of the first floor—which includes the mansion’s original dining room and an entrance rotunda that served the rear portion of the house—and part of the basement. With the other five condos, the unit shares a formal garden fenced in brick and wrought iron. The project’s developer, Bob Burk, says the buyers bought the place unfinished, meaning the ultimate cost to move in will be considerably more than the purchase price.
The red brick and sandstone building has a long, occasionally scandalous history that in many ways parallels the fortunes of the South Loop. The front portion of the house was built in 1884, designed by Solon Spencer Beman, the architect of the town of Pullman (now a South Side neighborhood). In 1890, the department-store titan Marshall Field, who lived one door south, bought this house for his son as a wedding gift. Daniel Burnham put up a huge rear addition that brought the house to 43 rooms—30,000 square feet of space.
In November 1905, Marshall Field Jr., died in the house. The family announced that he had accidentally shot himself, but a persistent, widely reported rumor of the day said Field Jr. had been mortally wounded at the Everleigh Club, a famous brothel a few blocks away, and then brought home to die away from the disreputable place. In 1909, new owners of the mansion turned it into the Gatlin Institute, a hospital for the treatment of drug and alcohol addiction.
The home of the senior Marshall Field, who died a year after the scandal, was later demolished, like several of the grand old mansions from Prairie Avenue’s heyday. But this home remained, mostly empty and crumbling for decades before Burk’s firm, UrbanStreet Properties, bought it in 2003, amid the revival of the South Loop. (You can read my earlier, in-depth report about that revival here.) Burk launched a painstaking renovation that entailed, among other things, building strong new walls alongside all the interior structural walls.
Price Points: When UrbanStreet Properties first started rehabbing this old behemoth back in 2004, Burk told me that he hoped to sell the six condos there for between $700,000 and $1.4 million. As it turns out, both ends of his projection were too low. Here are the prices (from low to high) and dates for each of the six sales in the building, according to the Cook County Recorder of Deeds:
• $750,000 for unit 5, sold in November 2007
• $850,000 for unit 4, sold in September 2006
• $1,010,000 for unit 6, sold in February 2008
• $1,175,000 for unit 2 (today’s subject property), sold in February 2009
• $1,183,500 for unit 1, sold in May 2008
• $1,757,000 for unit 3, sold in November 2006
Listing Agent: Nadine Ferrata, Coldwell Banker, 312-915 4713