The suburb directly north of Chicago is becoming denser every day with its luxury condos and other new developments, but Evanston still retains a lot of history and charm. Beautiful old homes of various architectural styles can be found on many of the college town’s tree-lined streets. Although historic preservation is very much a thing here — as indicated by the vintage properties listed below — you can still find brand-new, single-family homes. In the middle of one of Evanston’s four local historic districts is a residence built just last year on the grounds of a former estate, which I’ve shared at the end. It’s a bit of old and new coming together. There are also lots of options on the condo front, including a unit in a former Nabisco factory. So let’s cross the border and take a look around at what’s currently on the market in Evanston.
Although it’s been modified over the years, this 1892 Queen Anne-style home by architect John N. Tilton Jr. still garners a lot of attention. It has interesting architectural elements and both the Evanston History Center and Greenwood Street Beach are just steps away. The residence was built for Lucy Jane “Jennie” Rowe, the daughter of Samuel Davis, an early settler of Chicago. And by early, I mean before the city was even established. In the 1830s, Davis bought numerous downtown lots near State and Madison, which later made his daughter a wealthy woman. Beyond the lovely outdoor fountain is nearly an acre of land and a two-car coach house, while the inside has a lot of potential. The 9,000-square-foot, eight-bedroom, nine-bathroom house is currently contingent.
In southeast Evanston you’ll find a high first floor vintage condo that’s surprisingly large and open for its 1920 construction date. Originally four bedrooms, it’s been updated for contemporary living with new bathrooms, in-unit laundry, and a large kitchen that opens to a family room through a breakfast bar. But there are still some classic details one would expect in a 100-year-plus apartment building, like a fireplace flanked by built-in bookcases and a lovely corner sunroom. It’s just steps away from the Main Street Purple Line “L” and Metra stations, as well as all the businesses along Chicago Avenue — like Dollop Coffee, Hoosier Mama Pie, and Sketchbook Brewing Company.
Nowadays houses are rarely moved because obtaining permits can be a hassle and power lines stand in the way — plus it can cost as much as $200,000, depending on the size of the structure. But in the 19th and early 20th centuries, house moving was quite popular as it was less expensive to relocate a home than demolish it. Just six years after Henry W. Chester constructed this Queen Anne on Chicago Avenue, it was relocated to its present location at 1130 Judson in 1892. The residence was then remodeled, gaining a massive, round tower and curving wraparound porch. This contributing property to Evanston’s Lakeshore Historic District was last renovated in 2009, which you can see with the large and open kitchen, updated bathrooms, and the built-in lap pool and recreation room in the finished basement.
The National Biscuit Company, better known as Nabisco, chose Evanston as a site to manufacture its ovens, mixers, and ice cream molds, constructing this factory next to train tracks in 1914. In the 1990s, the complex was adaptively redeveloped into condominiums, becoming the New Biscuit Lofts, where you’ll find this one-bedroom, two-bathroom unit spread over two and a half levels. With its exposed brick walls and 12-foot ceilings, the recently remodeled condo has a new all-white kitchen with quartz countertops and breakfast bar. And the loft space is perfect for a home office. There is a communal rooftop deck with views of Evanston and Lake Michigan, but if you’re looking for more privacy and relaxation, the building features a beautiful courtyard full of trees and patio spaces.
Anyone looking for a brand new home in the middle of Evanston’s Ridge Historic District? Fifteen years ago, the nearly 2.5-acre estate — originally built by rubber industrialist George Dryden in 1916 — was sold and subdivided. His 30-room mansion became condominiums, the carriage house was converted into two townhomes, and new single-family homes were eventually constructed on the grounds. This five-bedroom, six-bathroom French Chateau was designed and built by local developer William James in 2021. More than $30,000 was spent on professionally landscaping the double lot, which includes mature trees and a stone cascading water wall yard sculpture. Considering the home is located right next to busy Dempster Street, the property’s beautiful grounds help create some much-needed privacy for the future owners.