List Price: $1.699 million
Sale Price: $1.606 million
The Property: In 1891, just three years after founding the company that would grow into the pharmaceutical giant Abbott Labs, Wallace Abbott built this 15-room house in what was then the Chicago suburb Ravenwsood. After Abbott’s death in 1921, his family sold the place to a funeral home. It became a private residence again in the 1970s, and in 2004, the owners sold it to Abbott Labs for $1.5 million. The company made some restorations—and some subtractions, as you will read below—before selling it in 2006 to Drew and Kelly Karras for $1.95 million. “It was a gem in the city,” Drew Karras says. “It’s an old house you can really love.”
The house has four bedrooms and a family room on the second floor, and there are two more bedrooms and a master suite with two separate bathrooms on the third floor. Karras says that the rooms are mostly very large: the living room alone is 682 square feet. He and his wife also restored the detached coach house, turning what had been a dilapidated structure into a two-bedroom apartment with garage space below.
Now living in Texas, the Karrases initially put the house on the market in August 2009, asking $2.489 million. It sold on March 2nd to Robert and Kathryn Craig, whom I could not reach for comment. Karras says that, along with the house and enormous lot, he left the owners an old photograph of Wallace Abbott riding down Wilson Avenue in his carriage.
As it turns out, the house has a much younger clone on the Abbott Labs campus west of North Chicago. It was built a few years ago on a parcel of land about the same size as the Ravenswood original’s one-third-acre lot. According to a person who has visited the replica, it contains some relics from the original: a front door, a fireplace mantel, some stained glass, and a steppingstone, engraved with the name Wallace Abbott, for getting into and out of carriages. (Abbott Lab removed the items while it owned the Ravenswood house between 2004 and 2006.) An Abbott public relations spokesperson would not let me visit the look-alike, and no photos are available online.
Price Points: Karras was no-nonsense about having sold the house at 17.6 percent below its 2006 purchase price. “The market speaks; the market knows,” he insisted. “That’s all you can say, right? It’s a tough market.” He declined to say how much the carriage house renovation and other improvements cost, but Jeff Lowe, the Karrases’ agent (their third to market the property), notes that the rehabbed structure, once uninhabitable, now rents at $2,000 a month. That goes a long way toward covering the property’s $28,000 annual tax bill, Lowe says.