Price: $1.9 million
The leader of the pack as far as design-savvy green retrofits are concerned is for sale in Bucktown. The first single-family home in Illinois to earn LEED Gold certification, it is an old corner tap turned 3,800-square-foot modern wonder. The mixed-use zoning is still in place, so you can’t rule the eventual return of a bar or coffee shop.
Credit goes to past owners Frank and Lisa Mauceri for the extreme makeover, with Wilkinson Blender Architecture in their employ. The firm, now defunct, was one of the early creative forces behind The 606 years before it got off the ground. That tie-in led Mayor Daley to give a speech from the roof of the house introducing the trail concept to Chicagoans.
In the two years Britt Whitfield has owned the home, the event designer and co-founder of The Revel Group has infused her style in lighting, art, and furnishings without needing to address the big stuff. She and her partner did build out the basement with guest rooms and a moody wine cellar, and augment the rooftop with succulent gardens and composite Trex decking. They also took on a special challenge. "The whole place was painted baby blue including the ceiling and trim,” says Whitfield. “Blue is a little tricky to cover up, so that took some time.”
The home is anything but rigid in its energy-saving applications. It boasts heated terrazzo floors, a front window wall, high ceilings, and a knotty pine wall with a small picture window to the street. This earthy touch allies with exposed brick to remind of the project’s humble origins. Otherwise the incredible floating, permeable steel staircase would completely dominate.
The stairs are a straight shot to the roof with a stop-off on the second floor. This is where most of the living takes place. The long, open floor plate merges a second living area with a cutting-edge chef’s kitchen, dining area, library, and master suite. A glass wall between bedroom and dining room, buffered by a back stairwell, means privacy is not the default setting. The master bath has a third staircase offering direct roof access. The way the home was laid out, this is the only true bedroom apart from the isolated studio unit that takes up a portion of the first floor.
“The square footage is definitely here, but the layout is not focused on having four bedrooms and a lot of kids,” says listing agent Mariah Dell of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices. “There’s more of a place for this kind of inventory these days.”
The layout focuses on entertaining. Catering huge parties is a specialty of Whitfield’s and she doesn’t hold back on her home turf. With the second floor serving as one giant hangout and the roof as the good weather backup, the home can take on guests by the hundreds. The roof has a few distinct landings and patio spots, a sauna, a grill, a flatscreen TV, and partial shelter courtesy of solar panels. Perched above it all is a cage with twin windmills. Geothermal energy is stored in the basement and used to power the house.
Upon completion of the 606 in June, the roof once again hosted a ceremonial moment with remarks from the Trust for Public Land, a major trail sponsor. Then Whitfield coordinated an opening night gala fundraiser at the Western Trailhead with 1,000 movers and shakers in attendance. ”I doubt I’ll have a home this social again,” says Whitfield. “I don’t know where we’re going yet, but I like to move pretty regularly. Once I’m done with decoration and rehab I start looking for a new project.”
I mentioned there’s a private studio unit. It has a full bath, kitchen, and a separate entrance on Honore Street and has been an Airbnb rental since Whitfield took over. At just $135 a night, with a mini fridge full of complementary beer and wine, it’s reserved into the fall. With any luck the bookings will transfer to the next owner and you can contemplate a staycation in swinging Bucktown.