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List Price: $2.895 million
The Property: If you’re looking for a place to get away from it all without getting far from downtown Chicago, I’ve found your spot. You don’t have to travel out into the suburbs to get a house with a 30-foot swimming pool, a hot tub, and a waterfall in the backyard; this one is at about 4200 North on the lakefront.
The pool, waterfall, and terrace create a wonderful hideaway—and it’s sort of a hideaway within a hideaway. The home is on Hutchinson Street, which is a treasure. It’s an Uptown street that a lot of people drive right past, but if they stop and look at it, they find it’s lined with great old houses and nice gardens. That’s true at today’s property, with a handsome brick facade complemented now by August wildflowers and grasses in bloom. That’s the front yard, not the back, but unlike many front gardens, it’s not just ornamental, it’s integrated into the living space, as you can see in today’s video.
The home is very porous: all the landscape and the renovations were done at the same time so that the indoors and outdoors flow together. From the pretty front garden, visitors can enter through French doors into an elegant living room surrounded by windows and doors all around. There are crown moldings up above, dark wood floors below, and a great limestone fireplace, creating a glamorous space. And then you continue out the other end of the room to the rear terrace.
Out here is the main attraction, a refined pairing of outdoor living space and water features that I first became smitten with six years ago. At that time, Robert Kroupa had just finished the indoor and outdoor renovations on the 1930s home, where his research suggests the Hollywood actress Betty Hutton, star of Annie Get Your Gun, may have lived briefly with her first husband, Chicagoan Ted Briskin, though I haven’t been able to confirm that. Kroupa, who in the past has been a real estate developer and written a children’s book, says he’s now selling to pursue another business opportunity.
From the terrace, it’s back in again, to a family room at the back of the house. With French doors all around, the lines are blurred between indoors and out. We might be outside by the hot tub or on the sheltered terrace, or sitting in the family room next to one of seven fireplaces in the home (some of them indoors, some out).
Wherever you choose, the kitchen is close at hand. It’s a crisp space set to one side on the first floor where it connects to several of the spaces. There’s a feeling of openness all around, but the more enclosed dining room complements that. Set apart by an extra-wide wall that houses a 200-gallon aquarium, the dining room feels more surrounded than other rooms.
Going up to the second floor, you don’t lose the connection between indoors and out. There are three terraces sprouting from different rooms, not to mention big windows that look out not only on the tree-lined street and the house’s own garden, but on a fine garden next door.
On the second and third floors are four bedrooms in all, plus a library. Three of the bedrooms are all laid out as masters—each with a fireplace—so you have a decision to make: There’s one at the back of the house that has access to two terraces, one in the sun and another that is roofed for protection from rain. Another is at the front of the house, with a pleasant view out over the trees of the neighborhood, a nice bathroom, and a terrace. The last is on the third floor, with more contemporary styling to the fireplace, built-ins, and bath and with an adjacent office or sitting room.
Once you’ve made your choice of master suites, go down to the basement, where there are choices all around. There’s a sharp bar area with sleek styling in the wood paneling; a billiard room that could be converted to a wine cellar or additional bedroom; a move theater with 13 recliners, and a big, fully-loaded gym.
Price Points: Kroupa paid $829,500 for the home in 2002, according to the Cook County Recorder of Deeds, but what’s left of what he bought is “just the shell,” he says. Renovation included knocking out everything inside, even the floors, and creating an entirely new 13-room layout. He turned to talented designers for the work: architect Linda Searle, interior designer Nate Berkus and landscape designer David Migdal. He would not disclose the cost of the rebuild, but with the pool and all the rest, it’s obvious that it was considerable. He first put the house on the market in January, at $3.15 million, but moved the listing to Eugene Fu on July 26, at the present asking price.