While it’s hard to believe today, Old Town in the 1920s and ’30s was once full of struggling artists living in run-down flats. It was during this time that former Art Institute of Chicago classmates Edgar Miller and Sol Kogen left their mark on a number of old Victorians, using reclaimed materials and transforming the buildings into a European-influenced artist collective. Behind new brick facades and playful decorative embellishments, Carl Street Studios is a labyrinth of narrow passages and communal courtyards that connect what are now condominiums. When a neighboring building was threatened with demolition in 2015, preservationists got together to fight for the architectural and cultural importance of this one-of-a-kind community. The 12 residential structures that make up this eclectic block were officially landmarked by the city the next year. This past week the largest unit in Carl Street Studios returned to the market after shaving off a 2,000-square-foot piece of it in September for $400,000. Although we’ve written about this unique property many times over the years, including in 2014, it’s worth a revisit while also taking a look at what else is available in the Old Town area. 

Undisclosed address, $1,095,000

For just under $1.1 million, Studio 2 of Carl Street Studios can be yours if you don’t mind residing in a timeless work of art (which might explain why it has not found the right buyer in over 13 years). Sol Kogen lived here from the 1920s until his death in 1957. While many of the surfaces are covered in colorful mosaic tiles, there’s also wood carvings, terra cotta animals, and an Edgar Miller-painted fresco under a huge window in the two-story living room. Maximizing light but maintaining privacy are apparent in the number of stained, translucent, and glass block windows. The kitchen was gently remodeled to fit with the rest of the home’s design. The communal courtyard features gardens and a koi pond, but the condo also comes with a large private deck on the roof. FYI — the main unit comes with a separate 745-square-foot duplex studio, perfect for a guest suite or a work space. 

1728 N Wells St, $1,190,000

Located on a prominent southeast corner in Old Town Triangle, this 1876 Queen Anne-style brick rowhouse has been on and off the market for the past three years. Currently priced at $1,190,000, the five-bedroom, three-bathroom has a number of charming details like the restored ceiling medallions and Eastlake-influenced wood carvings that adorn the living and dining room fireplace mantles. With its own private access, the finished lower level can easily be converted into a studio apartment for rental income or an au pair suite. But heads up before you start remodeling: The historic home has a preservation easement, which means the owner has a legal agreement with the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois to protect the historic property in perpetuity so changes cannot be made without their approval.  

210 W Saint Paul Ave, $999,999

Literally around the corner from the last property is this south-facing double house that dates from the 1880s. A mix of old and new, the four-bedroom, two-bathroom single-family residence got a freshening up when it last sold in late 2021. The updated kitchen features white cabinets, quartz countertops, and a 36-inch Wolf range. Downstairs the full basement would make a great playroom or workshop. Not only is the home close to everything Old Town has to offer, but you can also walk to the zoo, park, and lake. It was most recently used as an AirBnB.

1326 N Cleveland Ave, $1,999,000

Last year this architecturally unique building hit the market, but Chicago magazine first wrote about the property a couple years after it was built in 2005. Designed by architect Rodrigo del Canto as his personal residence, the light-filled contemporary design consists of two steel-and-glass towers that meet in the middle to create a U-shaped floor plan. Once you look past the concrete blocks and prominent yellow band of its exterior, you’ll absolutely love the inside of the five-bedroom, six-bathroom house, whether it’s for the beautifully lit courtyard entryway or dramatic floating three-story staircase with glass blocks. Light and airy with ceiling heights reaching 20-plus feet, my favorite part of the house are the multiple outdoor terraces on all the different levels.