A few days ago, a Twitter conversation reminded me what a great town for housing Flossmoor is, despite the least promising origins possible: the land was bought by the Illinois Central Railroad because they wanted to sell the dirt as fill for the Columbian Exposition.
Flossmoor owes its character to what happened when that didn’t work: It was marketed as a golfing-oriented commuter suburb, turning it into the upper-middle-class (and now diverse) bedroom town that it remains today. And it’s still a good commute: The town’s size means you can’t live more than two miles from the Metra stop.
Meanwhile, Flossmoor’s housing is extremely affordable. Some of the more architecturally unique homes remain within an upper-middle-class budget, and you can buy in with perfectly nice stuff below that.
The rub: A lot of what’s currently on the market is contingent, as homes in Flossmoor often get snapped up after weeks on the market. The suburb may be a bargain, but it’s no well-kept secret. There’s cool stuff to be had, but you need to move quickly.
Here’s a look at what’s out there.
This perfect little midcentury modern box, contingent after 40 days on the market, comes in at just under 2,000 square feet with three beds and 2.5 baths, lined up along an interior gold brick corridor. Like so many MCM buildings, it tucks away its relationship to nature in the back: There’s a courtyard and a substantial swathe of grass visible through floor-to-ceiling windows in the living area. It’s a reasonable size, reasonable price, and hasn’t been completely transformed by its updates. In short, it’s the kind of modestly distinctive house that distinguishes Flossmoor.
By contrast, this bigger, nicer, and more traditionally midcentury house — 2,635 square feet with three beds and two baths — isn’t even $100,000 more expensive, which gives you a sense of the market. (It’s also contingent after 18 days, which, ditto.) What do you get for the extra money besides another 700 square feet? A gorgeous home office with a floating built-in desk, a wooden porch in the forest, and lots of interior oak.
A Tudory-MCM ranch admittedly isn’t quite as cool, but there’s a savings here: five beds, three baths, and 3,893 square feet for only $325,000 — and it’s still on the market. It’s got nice features inside, like a huge open-plan living room with a gabled roof. The main room looks out onto a sunroom/home office and a split-level den with a parquet floor, floating fireplace, and exposed beams. Some odd but defensible choices have been made, like investing in a dual commercial oven in an inconsistently redecorated kitchen, but there’s a lot to work with.
Again, it’s hard to find a non-contingent home in Flossmoor, but here’s one: This handsome MCM architectural mutt, built in 1942, has been on the market for just two days. For its price — and with three beds and three baths, more than 2,100 square feet, and a huge patio in back — it probably won’t last long. It’s been renovated inside in a contemporary style with contemporary materials, so it doesn’t have the interior patina that its facade suggests, but it gives you a clean, open slate.
One more contingent house — sorry — after just six days on the market, but I can’t not. It’s a 1926 pseudo-English manse, updated with the finest pseudo-English decor of the 1970s and immaculately maintained ever since. It’s distinctive and detail oriented, and someone must have been into it, because it might soon be theirs for $349,000. That’s a lot for this particular niche, but the home does include four beds and five bathrooms (including this one — party time) at 3,420 square feet. It probably doesn’t come with the Jag pictured out front, but you should get one to match; this house demands going all in.