Riverside is best known for being America’s first planned suburb, created all the way back in 1869. It was the vision of noted landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted and his partner Calvert Vaux, who had just designed New York’s Central Park. In contrast to Chicago’s grid system, Olmsted highlighted the natural curves and beauty of the nearby Des Plaines River with winding streets and lots of green spaces. The village offered quick access by train to the city of Chicago; but it’s also an escape, as the well-preserved suburb is like stepping into another world. Riverside’s biggest architectural attraction might not be for sale (Frank Lloyd Wright’s Avery Coonley House) but there are still plenty of interesting homes of all prices and sizes currently on the real estate market.
Riverside is known for its beautiful historic residences set back from the street, like this 1870s home that belonged to Riverside’s first minister, Reverend James A. Trowbridge. The house is representative of Rural Gothic architecture with its cruciform plan, roof gable with matching pointed windows, and wraparound porch. The design is attributed to architect William Le Baron Jenney — known for building Chicago’s first skyscraper — whose architectural firm carried out Olmsted’s General Plan of Riverside and constructed the suburb’s first homes. Looking through the interior, you can see it is in impeccable condition, taking you right back to that time period in the music/ballroom with a stunning terrazzo floor and stained glass dome.
Not as grand and expensive as the previous residence, this 1928 brick Colonial Revival still has plenty of charm and curb appeal. The beautiful hardwood floors, staircase, fireplace, leaded glass windows, and custom woodwork are all original to the home, yet it still seems perfectly livable to today’s standards. The best part is the outside with a lovely brick paver patio that opens up to a deep lot and landscaped garden. The home is close to everything Riverside has to offer: a quick 15-minute walk to parks, schools, the library, the Metra train station, and the picturesque downtown.
William Drummond had a busy architectural career, working as a draftsman for both Frank Lloyd Wright and Daniel Burnham at the the same time — while also launching a successful career of his own. Built in 1904, this Prairie Style bungalow still has an impressive facade. Unfortunately, it’s lacking most of its vintage interior details (with the exception of the hardwood floors and that cool-looking entrance). What a great opportunity for someone looking to restore an old home back to its original architectural splendor, or breathe new life into a unique design.
Berwyn is known for its thousands of brick bungalows, so it’s no surprise that its neighbor directly to the west has some of its own. This 1927 octagonal bungalow has retained a lot of the vintage character and charm you’d expect to find in these types of residences. The original wood trim, hardwood flooring, and brick fireplace with built-in cabinets all survived. Some other great things about this house? The kitchen’s been updated, one of the bedrooms is ensuite, and there is a bar in the partially finished basement.
Similar to the first property I shared with you, another one of Riverside’s oldest surviving homes is for sale. Originally constructed for attorney and village trustee George Gilbert in 1871, this Second Empire style residence is also attributed to architect William Le Baron Jenney as its distinct floor plan is similar to other Jenney designs. You can see his attention to detail in the porte cochere, elegant window scrollwork, marble fireplaces, and the intricately carved walnut staircase. The large floor-to-ceiling windows bring in lots of light and ventilation.There’s even an Instagram account sharing photos of the home’s restoration back in the 1980s and 1990s.