Even for a 126-year-old house, the Queen Anne at 1104 Michigan Avenue in Evanston, which is listed with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Chicago for $1.95 million, has been through a lot. Nineteenth-century milliner C. Marion Hotchkin and his wife, Emma Palmer Hotchkin, reportedly were the first to take up residence in the 6,000-square-foot manse. Furniture company heir John M. Smyth and his wife, Ethel Walsh Smyth, have called it home, too — and so did Kevin Costner’s character in the 2002 supernatural thriller Dragonfly.
Three years before that, though, the Evanston landmark caught fire. No one was hurt, but the home itself suffered significant damage. “Firefighters doused the flames and then struggled for 10 hours to keep the fire from reigniting as they hauled antiques from the home, put tarps in place to protect what they could not remove, and tried to prevent thousands of gallons of water from pooling on expensive hardwood floors,” the Tribune reported at the time. The third floor saw the worst of the flames, though there was water and smoke damage throughout. Over the course of the next 16 months, the owners painstakingly restored the Victorian. “Everything has been beautifully preserved and updated in the home,” says listing broker Sally Mabadi.
The house, which earned a preservation award in 2005, features a heated sunroom off a dining room with a coffered ceiling, and a mahogany-paneled family room. Look closely at that paneling and you’ll spot a hinge: A secret door hides the original cast-iron safe. The primary suite — one of six bedrooms, with another three in a separate coach house — takes up half the second floor. It includes a bathroom with a fireplace and freestanding tub, a window-filled exercise room, and a large main room with a reading alcove tucked into the house’s turret. You can find such useful crannies all over the house: There’s an office nook off the kitchen where ice used to get delivered, and a small round room at the top of the tower. “It’s just the coolest,” says Mabadi. “I don’t even know how you make windows that curve.”