From the outside, the Donohue Building, an 1883 red-brick fortress at 727 South Dearborn Street, just looks like an especially excellent example of Chicago’s famed Romanesque architecture. But the Printers Row edifice is also a treasure-trove of firsts: It was the first building with a timber infrastructure constructed after the Great Chicago Fire; the first structure in the country to include a sprinkler system; and home to one of two original publishers of the children’s classic The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
In 1979, it was also Chicago’s first factory converted into residential condos. “It’s the grandaddy of loft spaces,” says Susan Dickman, a real estate agent with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Chicago. The penthouse, which Dickman is representing, is listed for $1.175 million. Owners Nancy and Bruce Johnson are downsizing from their 3,500-square-foot, three-bedroom corner unit now that Bruce is retiring.
The Land of Oz is exactly what comes to mind upon entering the couple’s home. A vaulted 40-by-20-foot skylight serves as the condo’s centerpiece, flooding the living room with natural light. The Johnsons installed the modern dome in place of the original industrial skylight. Climb a spiral staircase to a door in the side of the dome and you’ll find a private 3,100-square-foot rooftop with 360-degree views of the city.
The office and library both feature expansive built-in bookshelves. Exposed brick reminds you it was a factory, too. But alongside the charm are plenty of modern comforts, including a steam shower, walk-in closets, and a garage parking spot (for an extra fee). All together now: There’s no place like this home.