For such a small community (pop. 8,900), historic Riverside has surprisingly varied housing stock—in price and in style. It's a quintessential garden suburb planned by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux (see also: Central Park). Venture out there, and you'll find Frank Lloyd Wright houses, old gingerbread Victorians, classic bungalows, and, at the village center, conventional multi-unit buildings.
Much like River Forest or Oak Park, the biggest, most noteworthy addresses have correspondingly large price tags, while modest places (sometimes on the same block) are totally reasonable. “Riverside has everything from entry level all the way to $2.5 million,” says Landmark Realty Group’s Lauren Cody.
One of Cody’s newest listings is a marvelous example of a Riverside starter home: a three-bedroom 1887 Victorian with major curb appeal, a respectable yard, and basic interiors, for $290,000. It’s about 100 feet from the Des Plaines River and forest preserve, and three blocks from the Riverside Metra.
The local landmark still has most of its teeth, from moldings and hardwood flooring to the banister, mailbox, door, doorbell, and stone cellar. The 1,400-square-foot-home, on Forest Avenue, is clean and ready for move-in, even if a buyer feels compelled to renovate. The logical target for this is a kitchen that, while large and serviceable, lacks the cutting edge look that house hunters expect. But still: “With a home of this age, it could be a galley kitchen,” says Cody.
The second level’s three bedrooms are small specimens with large windows and laminate floors. The front master bedroom benefits from a window bay and a walk-in closet. The home’s single bathroom is a pretty nice one, with white tile walls and marble floors.
Off the kitchen is a back porch done up in the house’s festive red, pink and blue paint job. A good yard rolls out from here, well hidden from the public by a neighbor’s garage and dense garden. The Brookfield Zoo is a just across the river, and you can pick up several hundred acres of snaking forest preserve right down the block. The sellers aren’t about to leave Riverside, either—they’re looking at a condo in town.