Walk through the home with Dennis and owner Tim Rinkoski. Click here for a larger version
List Price: $1,075,000
The Property: Built in 1888 when the mid–South Side was very fashionable, this greystone townhouse was dilapidated and fronted by chain-link fencing in May 2002. That’s when Tim and Lynne Rinkoski, moving from Downers Grove into the city, decided to make it their next restoration project. “It was the best-looking deserted house on the South Side,” Tim Rinkoski says.
As it stood, the house was a blemish on the landscape of the Gap, whose lovely 19th– and early 20th–century homes stayed put when urban renewal swept through the neighborhoods to its north and south in the 1960s and 1970s. (Bounded by 31st Street on the north, Martin Luther King Jr. Drive to the east, 35th Street to the south, and Michigan Avenue to the west, the neighborhood—also known as the Calumet/Giles–Prairie landmark district—was situated in the “gap” between two high-rise housing developments.) Its treasures include a set of row houses by Frank Lloyd Wright, a house by Adler & Sullivan, and, lately, this house, which was built by a forgotten architect for Archibald McNeill. With his two brothers-in-law, McNeill founded Libby, McNeill and Libby, a beef canning company in the Union Stock Yards that became Libby Foods.
When the Rinkoskis found the building, its exterior was in pretty good shape, thanks to its durable greystone construction. But inside, there wasn’t a whole lot that could be saved. Some pocket doors and transom windows were still intact, but for the most part, the restorers had a blank slate. They opened up the boxed-in staircase (a remnant of the building’s days as a two-flat), installed a large skylight above, and created a cozy suite of rooms on the first floor that restored the original generous room sizes.
In the rear of the building, the Rinkoskis put on a small addition and took down the walls between some tiny rooms to create a kitchen that is very large by the standards of old urban homes. The same spread-out sensibility informed the design of the roomy second-floor master bath, which contains a large elevated soaking tub and a shower, and the basement “club room,” which combines a bar/entertaining area and an exercise space. The renovation earned the couple a Preservation Excellence Award from the Commission on Chicago Landmarks in 2006. Now the Rinkoskis—they are both sales executives, he for a cruise line and she for hotels—want to move on to another renovation project.
Price Points: At its asking price, the house sets a new benchmark for the Gap. The highest price recorded for the neighborhood over the last few years is $845,000, which in February bought a house in a row of new brick homes a block south of this place. While nice, those homes have none of the elegant touches—such as the swan-patterned metal parapet and rusticated stone archway—of the Rinkoskis’ 120-year-old home.
Listing Agent: Michelle Browne of Rubloff Residential, (312) 980-5144, firstname.lastname@example.org