Named for the locally sourced Bedford limestone that makes up their facades, they can be found all over the city, in a variety of forms—from condos in multi-unit buildings to a beautifully preseverved home in a Gold Coast development built by Potter Palmer near his lakefront castle.
Chicago is known for its architecture. Many people associate bungalows, worker cottages, and courtyard apartments with the city. But there is another residential building type that is just as common around many neighborhoods—the greystone. You’ve probably seen them in the city’s historic park and boulevard system, which has such a substantial number that it is now known as “the Greystone Belt.” Popular between 1890 and 1930, this construction style got its name from the locally sourced Bedford limestone used on the facade.
Greystones come in a variety of sizes and design motifs, yet sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between a multi-flat building from its single-family counterpart—just another reason why this building was so in demand over a hundred years ago. With over 30,000 greystones in Chicago, there is bound to be one that catches your eye. Here are five that are currently for sale.
Let’s start on Chicago’s South Side, specifically the Oakland Historic District, which runs from 35th to 43rd Streets between Cottage Grove and DuSable Lake Shore Drives. A number of Victoria era residences survive here, including this 1893 Romanesque Revival greystone. The home has been restored by its longtime owner, a local architect, who has brought back a lot of its original beauty. Inside you’ll find patterned mahogany wainscoting, ornamental plaster ceiling inlays, seven ornate fireplaces, and a gorgeous wooden staircase that connects all three levels of the home. It comes with an additional side lot, which offers plenty of options either for future development or to use as outdoor space. Did I mention the third story has a large recreation room with views of Lake Michigan?
In the 1870s Grand Boulevard, now Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, was constructed as a wide tree-lined boulevard and carriage drive to connect downtown with the parks on the South Side. Designed by world-renowned American landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, the street is lined with beautiful, old buildings like this 1896 classical greystone residence. Formerly the home of the Deborah Boys’ Club, today it is condominiums, and this particular unit is perfect for modern day living with an open floor plan and master suite with exposed brick walls. Other perks include basement storage and an attached, heated garage. All for $365,000!
There are literally blocks and blocks of vintage greystones in Logan Square, especially along its historic boulevard. Located in the heart of the neighborhood, this deconverted two-flat was originally built in 1912 and is now a single-family home. It comes with all the bells and whistles that you’d expect in an updated residential building—high-end kitchen appliances, customized window furnishings, Sherle Wagner bathroom fixtures, and a finished basement with home projector screen. Plus it’s on a rare double lot! Close to the Blue Line, Kennedy expressway, and one of my personal favorites, the Logan Square Farmers Market.
Today the streets of Lakeview are a mix of old and mostly brand new construction. But there are still plenty of vintage properties available in the neighborhood. If you’d like to go back in time when multi-unit buildings exhibited high-quality craftsmanship, this 1901 greystone duplex might be what you’re looking for. It’s spacious inside yet has individually defined spaces like a formal dining room and a galley kitchen. Historic elements include hardwood floors and transom windows. But don’t worry there are lots of updates like subway tiles, granite countertops, and double vanities. Best part? You’re walking distance from the best things about city life like Belmont Harbor and the Lakefront Trail.
Saved the best for last! Potter Palmer is a legendary name in Chicago history. In the 1880s he transformed what was then a frog-infested swamp into what is now the most expensive real estate in the city—the Gold Coast. This 1883 double house was one of the developments Palmer built near his lakefront castle. Today it’s a combination of historic charm and updated luxury with a 2018 renovation that preserved the home’s original details, including its greystone facade, carved staircase, wood floors, leaded windows, mosaic tile foyer, plaster moldings, and beautiful fireplaces. I used to work in this area and over the years I’ve seen plenty of historic properties completely gutted beyond the preserved facade, so I give props to the person who kept this home’s historic elements. Good job!