Probably the most common and recognizable historic housing type in the country, the American Foursquare is a simple, practical design that emerged at the end of the 19th century as a reaction to the gaudy ornateness of the prior Victorian era. The residential style, known for its square plan, pyramidal hip roof, wide eaves, central dormer attic window, and sometimes a spacious front porch, can be found throughout the Chicago area. Whether it comes with a brick, stucco, or frame exterior, the floor plans of these homes are usually the same. That’s where the “foursquare” name comes from: a square-shaped house with four rooms on the ground level and four rooms on the second story. Its popularity spread due to the rise of architectural pattern books and catalogs like Sears, making it easy to build your own home.

932 Ashland Ave, Wilmette, $2,495,000

This pricey, updated American Foursquare in East Wilmette features six possible bedrooms, five and a half bathrooms, a third floor office, and a finished basement with a kitchenette. According to Google street view and its sale history/real estate listing, the brick exterior was painted white, the porch reopened, and the interior was gutted down to the studs. Though completely renovated, original 1905 elements that have survived include coffered ceilings, stained-glass windows, and fireplace surround. The property is only a few blocks from Plaza del Lago and Lake Michigan.

4511 N Sawyer Ave, Chicago, $625,000

Although this 2,500-square-foot residence with four bedrooms in Albany Park is already contingent only three days after it was listed, I feel obliged to share its historically intact interior in this era of “gut and paint everything.” These are the character-filled details you just don’t see anymore and only find in a 1912 house: the built-in mirror in the foyer that can also be used as a coat rack, the double wood columns that separate the dining room from the living room, and the dining room’s beautiful built-in hutch with seating. Plus that tiled fireplace! I also really love the landscaping of the backyard.

516 E Illinois St, Wheaton, $575,000

They say “location is everything,” and that’s especially true when it comes to this charmer in Wheaton. The property is walking distance to downtown, which has a shared outdoor eating area for a number of restaurants on Hale Street during summer, as well as Metra and the Illinois Prairie Path. The 2,760-square-foot, four-bedroom, two-bathroom residence is on the market for the first time in over 20 years. The heated garage features updated wiring for an electric car (or whatever else you might want) and is big enough for two and a half vehicles. 

9635 S Winchester Ave, Chicago, $495,000

In Chicago’s Beverly neighborhood is this impressive brick foursquare that comes with four bedrooms, two and a half bathrooms, a fully finished basement, and a rear outdoor patio. One section of the front porch has been enclosed to create a lovely sunroom off the main living room, while the newly renovated kitchen features all new appliances. It’s only a block away from Ridge Park, which includes sports courts, an indoor swimming pool, performing arts space, and a ceramics studio. The property is also close to the Metra and 95th Street.  

851 W Downer Pl, Aurora, $499,900

Not too far from Route 31, which I wrote about last week, is this 1910 single-family residence on a corner lot in Aurora. The $200,000 spent on modern updates includes new plumbing and electrical as well as window replacements (though some beveled, leaded-glass windows do remain intact). The 4,203-square-foot home features six bedrooms, four and a half bathrooms, and a fully finished English basement. The listing’s price has dropped over $50,000 since it first hit the market last summer, so that is a steal if you ask me.