List Price: $7.45 million
The Property: This classical revival mansion overlooking Lake Michigan in Winnetka was built in 1897 for Otto Butz, a prominent Chicago attorney. It has had only five owners; the fifth, Manucher and Jena Khodadad, have lived there since 1977.
Standing on about one and a quarter acres—the rest of the land associated with the original estate was sold off decades ago—and with 180 feet of private beach, the house has the imposing profile and grand spaces of a late 19th–century mansion, but also works as an everyday family house. There is a big, sunny breakfast room near the kitchen, an upstairs family room (that now holds a pool table), and lots of spaces for kids to flop.
My favorite space is a reception nook off the enormous, nicely preserved foyer. Set in plain sight of the more formal rooms so that, presumably, young women could entertain their suitors without any risk of naughtiness, it is a cozy space with an enormous leaded-glass window and built-in seating. The rest of the first floor is grander, with a pair of living rooms, a library, a dining room, and a dramatic staircase that arrives at an enclosed platform in the foyer that seems designed expressly to showcase a small group of musicians at a party.
The breakfast room, formerly a screened porch, is a glass-walled space that frames the view out over a vast lawn to the bluff top (my photos and our video were shot a few weeks ago, before the trees and shrubs had leafed out). Along with the family room, there are five bedrooms on the second floor, two with windows facing the lake. The master bedroom has its own terrace that looks toward the lake, as well. The house’s kitchen and some bathrooms are dated and would need to be redone.
Price Points: Ready to downsize now that their three children are grown, the Khodadads initially listed the house for sale in June 2008 at $8.885 million. Two reductions have brought the asking price down to $7.45 million. Manucher Khodadad says that he and his wife paid $350,000 for the house in 1977; that is the equivalent of paying $1.26 million in 2009 dollars. Since buying the house, the couple spent even more money to protect the beach and bluff from erosion, to install new heating and air-conditioning equipment, and to fund other restorations and upgrades. The Khodadads would not disclose how much they spent, but the shoreline work alone would have been a costly undertaking—although it appears to have been effective. As you will see in the video, the Khodadads’ bluff top sticks out several feet farther than neighboring properties.