As an old money neighborhood with more than its share of grand old homes, coach houses are a routine find in the Gold Coast. Most still belong to huge main houses (like this one, for example), available as a perk in multi-million dollar transactions. These function as guest houses, artist studios, places to stash the in-laws, or apartments to let. A coach house as freestanding condo with its own tranquil courtyard is an almost unprecedented thing around here, particularly when priced at just $399,000.
Leslie King bought the place, part of a 13-unit complex at 1224-1228 North Dearborn Parkway, in 1998 for $184,000 and renovated it head-to-toe about 12 years ago. It actually used to be the hay loft of a longer coach house (now split by hallway) dating back to 1886. “When we first moved in we wondered what was holding up the stairs,” says King. “It was really big floorboards.” The home is 800 square feet but feels larger thanks to an open concept and high ceilings on both levels. King started out with a kitchenette by the front door but soon pushed back the wall to double its size and add a perimeter of counter with stool seating. She put in a large closet beneath the stairs and new drywall over brick, leaving one exposed wall in the bedroom. This upstairs space is the jewel of the house, with vaulted and beamed ceilings, French doors that open to garden below, the lone bathroom, and a lofted office wedged into the pitch of the roof.
King’s been happy with the space all these years, in no small part because she grew up in compact communities in New Hampshire and Boston. “When I moved here twenty years ago I said ‘find me New England in Chicago.’” That’s a tall order, but she pulled it off. Now reverse-commuting to Lake Forest for work, King doesn’t see the sense in staying in downtown Chicago.
Price Points: Two brothers developed the site 130 years ago with side-by-side houses, one considerably smaller, and the coach house. The condo conversion in the late 1980s took it all into account and fused the two main houses. The courtyard between the main house and coach house has mature trees, gardens, and patios and gives great shade and shelter in summer. A long walkway flanked by dogwood trees leads to the coach house. In the last six months a two-bedroom, two-bath condo with an extra 100 square feet sold in the main house for $525,000. Buyers aren’t out there searching for coach houses in the Gold Coast, which is one reason for the modest pricing, but once they warm to the prospect I’d expect decisive action.
Scott Berg of Berg Properties has the listing.