List Price: $950,000
The Property: When it was 99 years old, this Wilmette home grew from a modest two-bedroom cottage into a four-bedroom Victorian with fanciful Carpenter Gothic trim. Built in 1893 in what is now a highly desirable eastern section of Wilmette, the house got a facelift inside and out in 1992, when a pair of rehabbers put an addition on the back that more than quadrupled the original home’s 800 square feet. (It still looks like a relatively small house from the street, although the rehab did add a tower on the front.) On the interior they used salvaged stair posts, doors, light fixtures, and stained glass to make the home feel more like the larger Victorians that surround it.
Being both old and new makes it “a very fun house to show people,” says John Gillard, who is both the agent on the house and, with his wife, Patricia, its seller. They bought the nine-room house in 2000. “It’s not as small as you think it is from the street, and it’s open, not closed up like a Victorian. It’s deceiving.”
A large living room and dining room occupy what used to be the entire first floor; they lead to the kitchen, the family room, and a downstairs bedroom, which could be used as a media room or an office. In the family room, the fireplace and the staircase are trimmed with salvaged wood that has been painted white to keep from looking ersatz vintage.
On the second floor is the master bedroom, with two separate baths, a fireplace, and a high vaulted ceiling. Sharing the floor are two more bedrooms—one with a spiral staircase leading up to a play space in the tower—and an office (which could be enclosed to become a bedroom) with a small balcony that overlooks the neighborhood. The house sits on a large lot—40 feet by 213 feet—which means big front and back yards, even with a detached garage eating up some space. Gillson Park and its beach are five blocks away.
Price Points: The Gillards, whose five children are grown, listed the house for sale in April with an asking price of $975,000; they reduced it to $950,000 in May. John Gillard says the asking price is below the home’s 2007 appraised value, but he declines to say what that was. “Appraisals are down about 25 percent since then all over Wilmette,” he says.
Video: Ezekiel C. Binion