Price: $1.95 million
It was not uncommon for mansions to be built on spec in Lincoln Park in the late 1980s. But the builder of today’s featured 7,500-square-foot Postmodern listing on the 1900 block of North Mohawk Street really had guts. There was no client, and the first buyer to go under contract persuaded the builder to ramp up the home’s fabulous eccentricities at the tail end of construction, including installing an elevator. There was just one problem, according to seller Keith Rockey: the buyer wouldn’t pay for the upgrades and walked out on the deal. “As it turned out, this guy did the same thing with several houses.”
Rockey and wife Lillie came along a year later, in 1991, and became the first owners. In 22 years they’ve made few changes to the home’s provocative curves and bone white finishes. Their only substantial upgrade was a rebuilt bathroom for their daughter.
Architect Price Baker drove the conceptual design of the house toward ‘ocean liner’, evident in the sharp bow-like façade and the five cascading roof decks that climb down toward the back alley. Looking back from the garage top deck, the rear of the house is a nautical set design baring many of the property's 83 windows.
Chief among the home’s extravagances is the elevator that serves four levels (just not the finished basement). The elevator shaft is open on one side, with a bed of white pebbles and a campy Mediterranean mural. Marble floors are another big one, and the four fireplaces, sauna, and basement wet bar deserve mention.
To no one’s surprise, the five bedrooms are oddly shaped affairs—whether oblong or bulbous. The master is more the latter and boasts an equal-sized marble bathroom with a sleek black Jacuzzi against a black wall, frosted window patterns, skylights, and a touch of outdoor space. The only other rooms to share this degree of flash and angularity are the sunroom and lookout at the roof level—a perfect all-weather hangout—and the kitchen, with its criss-crossing countertops, white lacquer cabinets, and lone triangular window.
For sheer look, nothing beats the amplified curvature of the house’s pair of spiral staircases. The primary one is broader and more sculptural and fluid, but doesn’t make it all the way to the sunroom or upper roof deck. It features porthole windows that peer into the decorative elevator shaft. At one peep hole, only a cut of mural is visible and the effect brought me back to the stunning Magritte exhibit now up at the Art Institute.
In the basement, a full bar, sauna, guest bedroom, and bath await. In danger of being an afterthought in a home like this, as many finished basements are, the faux rock cavern bar and neon stools save it from that fate.
Price Points: The $1.95 million asking price anticipates the inevitably small pool of buyers for this outlandish home. “It’s almost unheard of to get a home of this size, condition, and quality for under $2 million in East Lincoln Park,” says listing agent Emily Sachs Wong of @properties. Getting out ahead of the pack may prove good strategy.