List Price: $4.995 million
Sale Price: $4.4 million
The Property: A grand manor home on two acres in Winnetka’s Indian Hill Club was sold February 17 for $4.4 million—just 46 percent of what its sellers were asking when they first put it on the market nearly six years ago.
The sellers, Brian and Dana Porter, only the third owners of the mansion since it was built in 1928, bought it for $2.4 million in 1995, according to the Cook County Recorder of Deeds. They built a three-story addition on the back that mimicked original details and finishes, created a basketball gym in former attic space, and generally updated the home, says Marion Powers, the Prudential Rubloff agent who represented the home. “The addition was a seamless fit with the original,” she says. “They didn’t muck it up or strip it down.”
An antique icebox was still in place, so when the new kitchen was designed, the icebox, fitted out inside with new guts, got a central spot; in the garage and coach house, vintage beadboard was duplicated for new spaces. The finer finishes in the main formal rooms were extended into new rooms in the addition, Powers says, adding that the master bedroom has windows on three sides and a ceiling that is about 30 feet high.
The Porters originally listed the home, with Powers, in April 2006 at $9.5 million. It was on and off the market over the past several years, coming back on for the last time in November with an asking price of $4.995 million. Within six weeks, “we had several interested parties,” Powers says. The buyers are not yet identified in public records, but Powers says that they plan renovations of the kitchen and other spaces.
The house was built in 1928 for John Nash Ott, a lawyer for the First National Bank of Chicago. (His wife, Wilhelmina, was the daughter of James B. Forgan, the bank’s president from 1900 to 1924.) It was designed by Edwin Clark, the architect of buildings in Chicago and at Brookfield Zoo, as well as some of Winnetka’s grandest homes.
The house remains superb inside and out, thanks in part to the 1990s renovation by Liederbach & Graham Architects. (My photo of the house doesn’t do it justice; spend some time drooling over the listing photos here and here.) A Metra station and New Trier High School are only a short walk away. Toss in the expansive southern views over the grounds and the golf course, and you’ve got all the locational advantages a home could want.
An interesting side note: The Otts’ son, John Jr., developed time-lapse photography, had a gardening show on Chicago television, and contributed footage to an Oscar-winning nature film by Walt Disney. Nineteen when this house was built, he spent much of his career as an inventor tinkering in the basement of his own home nearby on Woodley Road.
Price Points: I could not reach the Porters for comment, and Powers wouldn’t discuss the cost of their additions and renovation. But it seems likely that much if not all of the $2 million differential between their 1995 purchase price and their 2012 sale price was absorbed by the cost of renovating and expanding the house.
Listing Agent: Marion Powers of Prudential Rubloff; 847-881-8077