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List Price: $449,900
The Property: There’s a short street in Independence Park lined with bungalows, Victorians, and other classic Chicago homes. New on the market is a farmhouse-style house with a simple roofline, a big front porch, and a raised first floor—all elements that, to me, say “Chicago neighborhood,” something its seller knows a thing or two about.
Elaine Soloway grew up in the 1940s on a mostly Jewish immigrant stretch of Division Street in Humboldt Park (she even wrote a memoir about the experience). She has since lived all over the city and, briefly, in the suburbs.
In today’s video, Soloway explains that she bought in Independence Park in 2000 because it reminded her of Division Street. “What I loved about Division Street was its vitality,” she says. “Whatever time of day there were people on the street. There were children—the kids played outside. That’s always been the kind of neighborhood I’ve tried to emulate. In this neighborhood here, we have kids of all ages on bicycles and babies in buggies.”
Soloway and her now-deceased husband, Tom, bought the three-bedroom house in part because of its large lot (48 feet by 128 feet; the city norm is 25 feet by 125 feet). It had room for Tom’s gardening and for their dog, who has also died. Soloway put the house on the market in January, she says, because it’s too big for her, and she wants to hand it off to a family with kids and, “most important, a dog.”
A family would make good use of the big front porch, the large living room, and the cozy dining room tucked to the side. An addition to the original (1903) kitchen included a sizable casual dining area, as well as an office, where Soloway writes her assorted blogs.
Up the original wood staircase are three bedrooms and two baths. The two front bedrooms are modestly sized, but both have big closets. The master is at the back of the house, opened up—thanks to the addition—into a very large space, complete with cathedral ceilings, a large dressing room and bathroom, and sliding doors that frame views over the big yard and neighborhood.
A few blocks west is a rare nexus of three modes of transportation: the Kennedy Expressway and stations for Metra and the CTA Blue Line. (The ease of getting around reminds Soloway of the old Green Hornet, the streetcars that used to navigate Chicago’s streets.) There’s noise from the expressway, but as Soloway points out, “anywhere you live in Chicago, there’s noise.” Half a block east is the park that gives the neighborhood its name, with tennis courts, baseball fields, big trees, and a field house.
The house and the neighborhood have a somewhat timeless feeling, except for the kitchen and baths, all of which need updating. So bring ideas—and your dog.
Price Points: Soloway’s house is one of 36 for sale in its approximate price range ($400,000 to $480,000) in the 60618 Zip Code. One-third of them are condos or townhouses. The single-family homes include everything from a traditional bungalow to sleek new construction.