Only seven manors remain on what used to be the grandest stretch of Lake Shore Drive, from Oak Street to the southern edge of Lincoln Park. These horse-and-buggy-era city landmarks crouch along a wall of high-rises—and one of them is up for grabs.
At $17 million, the limestone leviathan at 1516 North Lake Shore Drive was the most expensive property on the market in Chicago as of presstime. Peeling paint, an outdated roof, and tubless bathrooms might make it the priciest fixer-upper ever. But original 101-year-old details—marble fireplaces, herringbone flooring, intricate millwork—appear immaculately maintained.
Built in 1914 as a single-family home for hardware merchant Edward Tyler Blair, the four-story French-chateau-inspired mansion has housed a curious bunch since the early 1950s: the International College of Surgeons. The organization replaced bathtubs with storage cabinets and filled unused rooms with skeleton parts and Barbie-size surgical scenes. The mansion and its next-door neighbor, home to the International Museum of Surgical Science (where the offices are moving), were designed by renowned architect William Kendall, of the New York firm McKim, Mead & White. A tunnel—which will be filled in—connects the buildings.
Your cost for renovations could be close to $5 million, says Crystal Tran, the property’s real estate agent, assuming you convert it back into a single-family home. In any case, with such neighbors as the surgery museum and the Polish Consulate, you’d never lack for great block party guests.