Several years ago, the union of two side-by-side condos in the converted Wojciechowski Funeral Home at Webster and Hamilton Avenue in Bucktown allowed for something quite unusual, for a condo or even a house: a 60-foot-wide floor plan. That’s what makes the newly listed 3,600-square-foot three-bed, the building’s largest unit, sing.
The 1996 conversion by architect Pappageorge Haymes permanently ended the funeral home’s 100-year-tenure. Its location, opposite the hulking Saint Hedwig Catholic Church, had made perfect sense. “People will still approach me occasionally to say they had services for a loved one in my building,” says seller Chris Caudill, “and to muse on the radical change.”
Caudill arrived in 2006 and began massive interior work, marrying original hardwood floors and ornate beams to new arched doorways and wood paneling. While aesthetically he had to contend with orange walls and blue trim, the bigger chore was adding new windows and doors, upgraded lighting, a pantry, and a powder room. He also built walls and put in new HVAC units. “It was way too open for me. The first winter heating bill was $700.” All told, Caudill estimates he spent $200,000 on improvements.
Other endearing features are the two wood-burning fireplaces, paneled lounge, chef’s kitchen, and huge master suite. Only a small fraction of living space is not on the ground level—some 600 square feet of basement rec room. In a typical duplex-down, the ground level is often a glorified studio with a lot of actual living taking place in cushy but inferior basements. This place rights that wrong. The main level has 11’ ceilings, large rooms, and the luxury of grand galleries, foyers, and hidden patios. Tall windows throughout and sliding glass doors to the patio soften the divide between interior and exterior and the pair of brick-walled patios with trees and fountains are oasis-like.
Caudill credits his two-year tenant, an interior designer, with bringing out the home’s full character in his absence. And, in fact, this tenant is selling his carefully matched furniture and décor separate of the listing. It’s been four or five years since Caudill lived in the unit. With children and work on the North Shore, it hasn’t been tenable. He now lives in Glenview.
Price Points: Caudill purchased the combo unit for $762,000 nine years ago and is asking $899,000. Intermittent attempts to sell, going back to 2008, saw the list price as high as $1.1 million. The unit compares favorably to area lofts in size and price per square foot. Under-construction 3-flats pushing sophisticated modern on Leavitt and on Armitage have three-bed units of unspecified size on the market for the same price. They are almost certainly smaller, and each has one less bathroom. Over on Damen, north of Armitage, the gulf widens. A new building at 2040 N. Damen has three full-floor condos that sold in the last six months for at least $1.2 million.
I’m not trying to instigate a tussle between trendy new-builds and custom renovations. There’s room for both, and the important thing is finding a space able to bend to an occupant’s shifting tastes over time. “I like the new wave of modern in the city,” says Berkshire Hathaway KoenigRubloff listing agent Brad Lippitz. “It’s refreshing. But this sits between modern and traditional and you can take it further in either direction.”