List Price: $499,000
The Property: When she was appointed by President Obama to an ambassadorial post in Rome last year, Ertharin Cousin was reluctant to let go of her Chicago home, a three-bedroom condo she had painstakingly updated in the Powhatan, the Art Deco treasure at 49th Street and South Lake Shore Drive. It was not until December, six months after her appointment, that Cousin finally put the place up for sale. “She said, ‘The Powhatan is spectacular, but I’m in Rome now,’” says Donna Schwan, Cousin’s real-estate agent. “I mean, it’s Rome.”

After living in a building embellished with everything from Native American figures in the doors’ grillwork, to multicolored panels that climb the exterior walls, to gilt doors with cranes carved into them, it just might take Rome to make a person let go.

I have arranged the photos below to show the procession of decorative features that greet visitors as they enter the building and make their way to the elevator. The elevator, one of the few still staffed in a Chicago residential building, stops in the leather-paneled foyer of Cousin’s ninth-floor condo. When Cousin bought it a decade ago, says Schwan, “it needed to be updated throughout, but she fell in love with its Audrey Hepburn bones.”

As finished, the condo is nearly as elegant as that Hollywood legend. There is a library whose rich paneling and hidden bar are original; a kitchen that pairs original cabinets with new replicas; very large living and dining rooms with handsome dentil moldings; and three bedrooms, each with its own bathroom. (The third bedroom, originally intended for a servant, is near the kitchen and is now used as an office.)

The view across Lake Shore Drive to the lake is lovely, but for really powerful vistas, residents go to the ballroom on the 22nd floor, where terraces tucked behind the building’s crenellations reveal magnificent views, north to the skyline and south across the lakefront parks of the South Side. On a splendid spring day, even the Eternal City pales.

Price Points: Cousin first listed her condo for sale in December, with an asking price of $595,000; she dropped it to $499,000 earlier this month. “It’s the steal of the century,” says Schwan, who has represented several Powhatan sellers over the years. (Because the building is a co-op, public records do not say what Cousins paid for her condo.) The building’s amenities are pricey: this home’s monthly assessments are $2,700. Schwan is also representing a smaller 12th-floor unit, finished nicely but not to the same level of elegance, for $299,000.

Listing Agent: Donna Schwan of MetroPro Realty; 312-203-4246 or