For decades, many people have picked a home due to its proximity to train lines, hoping for an easy commute to their downtown offices. But the COVID-19 pandemic changed all that. It led to an increase in work-from-home and remote jobs, which resulted in record low ridership on the Chicago area’s commuter rail network. Total passenger trips dropped 75% in 2020. Earlier this month, Metra officials promised to restore full pre-pandemic service by the end of 2023 as more people have returned to the workplace. With that in mind, let’s take a ride down five of the eleven rail lines that Metra operates through the metropolitan area, stopping along the way to check out some of the latest suburban properties for sale. One of the homes even has a connection to the railroad itself, but all are located within a short distance from a nearby Metra train stop.
UNION PACIFIC WEST LINE
West Chicago, once known as Turner Junction, was the first railroad connection in the state with 12 different railroad tracks running through the town. Located on a large lot just one block from the Metra station, this 1892 Victorian was originally built for Albert Hahn, who worked as a station operations superintendent for the Chicago & North Western Railroad. There have only been four owners during its 130-year history, which might explain why so many original details survived, like the grand staircase, delicate scrollwork, stained glass windows, and gorgeous built-ins. Now a multi-unit residential building, this $375,000 listing is perfect for anyone looking to make some money from rental income.
METRA ELECTRIC MAIN LINE
Over a fourteen year period this midcentury modern home in suburban Olympia Field was restored and updated by its current owner. Now listed for $399,000, the three-bedroom, two-bathroom passive solar design was created by local architect John V. McPherson in 1957. While most of the exterior is floor-to-ceiling glass, the front part of the facade is covered in vertical redwood slats, helping give privacy to one of the bedrooms. The facelift included a new roof, new climate systems, and a modern kitchen that fits the home’s style. The new flooring of Brazilian cherry wood, cork, and black slate also works well with all the original wood that covers the walls and ceilings. Located just minutes from the Metra, the commute to the Loop is less than 30 miles.
UNION PACIFIC NORTH LINE
Near the Indian Hill stop in Kenilworth is a stunning 1928 four-bedroom, three-bathroom Spanish Revival home. The triple-arched windows of the brick facade match perfectly with the French doors and large window of the rear living room and primary bedroom addition. But what really makes this property special is the incredibly lush backyard. The landscaping, full of perennials and other greenery, is right out of a magazine. Below the patio you’ll find flagstone steps that take you down to a secret garden with a charming bridge. After looking through the photos of the beautiful interior and one-of-a-kind outdoor space, it is no wonder that the residence is already contingent just a week after hitting the market.
BNSF RAILWAY LINE
While the price tag ($999,000) for this pink three-bedroom, three-bathroom home in Downers Grove might raise some eyebrows, it is pretty accurate for the area and not too steep when you consider the property’s double lot size. Located between two train stops on Metra’s busiest route, this 1934 charmer was supposedly designed by architect R. Harold Zook, who lived in nearby Hinsdale. A number of original features survive inside, such as the colorful basement rec room flooring, handcrafted blue tile bathroom, and built-in cabinetry in the kitchen. Let’s hope a special buyer comes along who appreciates the whimsical character of this old home and doesn’t change a thing.
Our last stop is in suburban Oak Lawn where you’ll find this 2,662 square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bathroom single-family residence with a surprise inside. Originally built in 1958, its midcentury modern design elements are apparent in the geometric patterns, clean lines, vintage glass blocks, and carport. Listed for $357,500, the move-in-ready home has been renovated with a new roof and fully updated kitchen and bathrooms. But what really makes this place special is the expansive indoor pool area with exposed wood beam ceiling and multiple skylights. Imagine being able to swim 365 days a year no matter what the outdoor weather conditions are like in Chicago.