For a closer look at the penthouse, launch the photo gallery »

List Price: $895,000
The Property: It’s common in new buildings to have several floors of penthouses. But in a 1926 co-op on Lake Shore Drive in Lake View, there’s just one penthouse floor, the 17th, which can be reached only from the 16th floor by a private staircase.

Accessing a penthouse via the stairs is less than elegant, but the property featured today has that solved. After living in their top-floor two-bedroom space for about eight years, the owners expanded downward by connecting the penthouse to a 16th-floor unit they had bought, so it’s now possible to travel to this home on the elevator.

The center of the home is an elegant living room with columns, arched doorways, ebony-stained wood floors, and a stone fireplace. Two outdoor terraces flank the room; one faces east, toward Lake Michigan, and the other looks west, over the city. Janet Owen, the agent for the sellers, Barbara Provus and Fred Wackerle, has been to parties at the home where, as she notes in today’s video, drinks would be served on the east side overlooking Montrose Harbor, after which guests would enjoy dinner—and the sunset—on the west terrace.

Next to the living room, the dining room also opens on to the west terrace, and it also gets lots of natural light from windows facing the building’s rooftop and light well. What used to be the main bedroom of the penthouse is now a large study and an office. The décor of the adjacent full bath complements the Jazz Age look of the building, which was designed by Robert S. DeGolyer.

At the rear of the floor is a still-contemporary kitchen (by John Michon) that the sellers put in 12 years ago. The nearby bathroom has an unusual element: a wine refrigerator where the shower once was. That’s because the bedroom that used to be here made way for the stairs down to the 16th-floor. Hanging beneath a big atrium window, the staircase is a stunner, a sculptural piece of birch. The entire lower level of the home, once a separate two-bedroom unit, is a master suite now. It includes a gym (which could be converted to another purpose), two enormous walk-in closets, and a master bath. Pocket doors open to reveal a master bedroom with crown moldings, a fireplace, and sleeping and sitting areas.

Price Points: When pricing the unit earlier this year, Owen says, “we were tempted to go over a million [dollars] because of the terraces and the master floor. Those are things you don’t usually find until you get to the $3 million range.” But because her sellers, who are retiring to another city, have owned the home since well before the escalating prices of the boom years, they didn’t have their egos staked on a big number. “We decided the best thing we could do was have the market perceive this [home] as being a good deal,” Owen says. She listed it in early March and says that she’s had several second and third showings.  The building is a cooperative, meaning that buyers will purchase a specified portion of the corporation that owns the building.

Listing Agent: Janet Owen of Prudential Rubloff; 312-268-0700 or