Sold: A Lotta Terra Cotta
The most ornate residence in a cluster of homes built for officers of the Northwestern Terra Cotta Company, the Henry Rokham House and its elaborate display of ceramic ornamentation served as a striking advertisement for the Chicago firm. Established in 1878, Northwestern was once the country’s top manufacturer of terra cotta. Though the company closed in 1965, its handiwork still adorns some of the city’s most distinctive structures, including the Chicago Theatre and the Wrigley and Reliance Buildings.
Gary Mihalik and Frank Pieri, both doctors, bought the four-bedroom Rokham House in 1996 for $1.195 million. (There’s also a two-bedroom apartment above the coach house out back.) They renovated the interior of the 1887 house and installed bright period wallpaper and polychrome tile to complement the original stained-glass windows. Listed for sale at $3.9 million in 2009 and enduring several price cuts over the next three years—down to $2.195 million—the place finally sold in September for $2.053 million. “It’s landmarked, so it’s tricky to [make changes to the exterior],” says the sellers’ agent, Joanne Nemerovski of Prudential Rubloff—which may be one reason the house sat on the market for so long. The buyers are not yet identified in public records.
For a video tour of the Rokham House and to see more of Lake View’s Terra Cotta Row, go to chicagomag.com/terracottarow.
Sold: Lifted by Location
In 1990, when this four-bedroom house was new (part of the Dearborn Park II project), it sold for $376,500. Now the original owners, Lawrence and Barbara Zalud, have sold it for $1 million. If the residence had tracked increases in median prices, it would have gone for only $700,000. The difference “reflects the neighborhood’s improvement,” says Linette Thompson, the @Properties agent who represented the Zaluds.
Deal of the Month: $299,000
That’s what the seller is asking for this three-bedroom townhouse. The price is 79 percent of the $380,000 he paid in 2005. What’s more, he recently repainted the interior, refinished the floors, and replaced some appliances. “He bought it as a bachelor, is married now, and needs more room,” says his agent, Kelly Cox O’Brien of Better Homes & Gardens Gloor Realty.
Trying to rent out a home? Think granite. That’s the takeaway from a Chicago word cloud prepared by Rocket Lease, which provides online resources for landlords. After studying rental listings across the country, Rocket crafted clouds that show the frequency of key terms in different cities. The word “granite” figures prominently here but doesn’t show up in New York and is only a blip in Los Angeles. “This tells us granite countertops are desirable [in Chicago] but sufficiently uncommon to be a valuable selling point,” says Eric Liu, Rocket’s chief data scientist.
Photography: (top) Todd Urban; (bottom) Dennis Rodkin