List Price: $4,499,999

The Property: This four-story townhouse on Astor Street is a stunner both outside and in: although the exterior-with its ornately detailed brick, copper, and stone façade-dates to 1888, the interior got a complete overhaul in 2007. The home and two of its neighbors were designed by the great Chicago architect John Wellborn Root, who died of pneumonia in the townhouse north of this one in 1891. A fourth Root-designed townhouse, which stood south of this place, was demolished in the early 1960s to make way for an apartment high-rise.

The artist and concert pianist Andrew Lidgus bought the house in September 2006; intending to live there with his family, he undertook a full-scale renovation. “All that was left inside that was from Root was the little vestibule next to the front door,” Lidgus says. A devoted architecture fan, Lidgus tried to summon Root’s spirit with a dramatic four-story wooden staircase, a carved stone mantelpiece, parquet floors, and a decorative theme throughout that relied on a grid of squares.

But Lidgus also filled the home with some appropriate contemporary touches, including a modern kitchen, lots of subtly stylish light fixtures, a master bath with its own spacious roof deck, and an elevator. “The elevator is the best thing Andrew did,” says his listing agent, Nancy Joyce. “People who can afford a house like this want one,” but it can be hard to shoehorn one into an old house unless you’re starting from scratch, as Lidgus did. The house has no garage and no parking space.

Price Points: In September 2006, Lidgus paid $1.95 million for the townhouse. “I haven’t figured out how much I poured into it,” he says. “I don’t think I want to know.” It’s clear Lidgus spent well, and abundantly; the trouble is, he spent like someone who was going to live there, not like a bottom line–conscious investor planning to put the house right back on the market. (He now plans to buy a large gallery space and wants to put his equity from this home into it.) Lidgus may have to wait a while to recoup his entire investment, although a buyer who wants something this historic and tasteful could arrive any day.

Listing Agent: Nancy Joyce, Koenig & Strey GMAC, (312) 339-4949

Photos provided by Koenig & Strey GMAC