Now that the weather is finally getting warmer, more and more people are spending time outdoors either on foot or bicycle. Maybe you’re like me and enjoy using the 61-mile Illinois Prairie Path, a former right-of-way for the old Chicago Aurora & Elgin electric railroad. When it was established in 1963, the Prairie Path became the first proposed rail-to-trail conversion in the nation. Local naturalist May Theilgaard Watts successfully argued the abandoned right-of-way should be preserved for public use instead of turned over to developers. The emblem for the multi-use nature trail is an inverted Y, symbolizing its direct route through the suburbs of Maywood all the way out to Wheaton with branches ending in either Elgin or Aurora. The following homes for sale are all walking distance from the main part of this historic pedestrian trail.
Back in September I wrote about Sears catalog homes for sale around the Chicagoland area. Considering the majority of these kits arrived by train, it’s not surprising to find one just a block away from the rail-to-trail Prairie Path. The former factory town of Villa Park has around 80 of these mail-order residences. One of the most popular models sold by Sears, Roebuck & Company was the moderately priced Osborn, which you can see here with this 1923 four-bedroom, two-bathroom home originally built by Henry Shepherd, an agent in a glove factory. It comes with a legal non-conforming two-bedroom, one-bathroom coach house from 1933, which can be occupied by one to three people.
A designated Glen Ellyn landmark, the best part of this handsome craftsman bungalow is its mix of old and new. Originally built in 1913, the three-bedroom, two-bathroom home’s shingle exterior with broad entry porch doesn’t reveal what’s hiding at the rear of the property. In 1960, then-owners Don and Helen Ward commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright apprentice Don Erickson to design a Usonian-style family room addition with vaulted ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows, and a heated concrete floor. The kitchen and second-floor bathroom have been completely remodeled since the house last sold almost six years ago.
There are plenty of newer homes close to the Illinois Prairie Path, or in this case historic-inspired, with this Prairie Style knockoff located on a wooded one-acre lot built almost a decade ago. On and off the market for the last nine months, this four-bedroom, five-bathroom ranch has some interesting features like a cupola atrium and a walkout basement that includes an indoor sports court. The one-of-a-kind design also backs up to the nearly 600-acre Saint James Farm Nature Preserve, another great place to explore either by bike, foot or horseback.
The housing market in Elmhurst is somewhat competitive, but it should also be noted the suburb is considered the teardown capital of Chicagoland. Just last year a nine-year-old house was demolished to make way for a double-lot mansion. So there are many (emphasis on that word) new large-sized single-family homes in town — like this five-bedroom, six-bathroom contemporary design built in 2012. An open-concept plan with cool details like a multi-sided fireplace and a staircase that connects all three levels. Not only is this house directly next to the Prairie Path, but also Wild Meadows Trace Park and the York & Vallette Business District.
Once known as Babcock’s Grove, suburban Lombard is full of historic residences like this 1921 charmer known around town as “The Cobblestone House.” Local architect George Ritchie constructed the home of river stone walls for original owner Stanley D. Tylman, a dentist who taught at the University of Illinois at Chicago. While there were alterations and updates to the home between the 1980s and 2019, a number of vintage details survive inside, like oak wood trim, hardwood floors, leaded glass cabinets and windows, and a river rock fireplace. It also comes with a conservatory that overlooks a beautifully landscaped half-acre property and koi pond.