When one thinks of the great Gilded Age homes of Chicago, Potter Palmer’s castle and Marshall Field’s Prairie Avenue chateau (both long gone), the Samuel M. Nickerson House (now the Driehaus Museum), and the archbishop’s mansion across from Lincoln Park come to mind. Overlooked, but also impressive, is the John Henry Raap House at 1407 North Hoyne Avenue.
Suds built the fortunes of several men who made their homes in this corner of Wicker Park (a.k.a. Beer Baron Row). Raap, a German-born Civil War vet who rose from corner-store grocer to wholesale liquor merchant, built one of the best. Recently put on the market for $6.95 million, the 8,250-square-foot, five-bedroom, five-and-half-bathroom residence has had its ups and downs. For decades after Raap died in 1897 (murdered in his office by an employee who had been indicted for embezzlement), the mansion operated as an apartment house. Now reclaimed as a single-family residence, it has been restored and renovated by Rugo/Raff Architects.
The exterior retains its period details, such as the mansard roof, tower wing, and decorative hoods at the window tops. Inside, though, it is no museum. Although door frames, ceiling cornices, and mantelpieces are keyed in style to the past, a clean, contemporary vibe pervades. A custom kitchen with professional-grade appliances, two laundry rooms, and a wine room are among the many first-rate features. There’s also a 2,000-square-foot coach house.
Situated on a 98-by-150-foot lot, the mansion boasts abundant outdoor space, from a deep front lawn to two limestone terraces. A vine-covered pergola graces a yard outfitted with raised garden beds. An outdoor kitchen comes complete with a built-in grill. It’s a great place to enjoy the drinks that built this mansion.