Queen Anne homes aren’t rare in Old Norwood Park, but those with turrets certainly are. An exemplar on North Neva Avenue just south of Peterson Avenue is the only one on the market in this historic neighborhood. It listed last week for $639,900.
The yellow and white parkfront beauty, dating to 1886, appears larger than its 2,300 square feet thanks to an indulgent wraparound porch and the forwardness of the architecture. Landscaped shrubbery, a grove of small trees, and one large maple shield the home in summer, and a band of garden flanks both sides and through the modest backyard.
The owner, who could not be reached for this article, snatched up the four-bedroom in 2005 before it could notch one full week on the market. “It’s where she wanted to live,” says Michael Drommerhausen, the Prudential Rubloff listing agent. She invested a good deal in the home’s finishes, and in creating new spaces—an enclosed back porch became a parlor with numerous windows to the garden. The kitchen was also rebuilt with new cabinetry, appliances, and a custom butcher-block island.
The home really capitalizes on its exposures, with concentrations of large windows on all but the northern face. A few original stained glass windows set higher on the walls place ornament above lighting. And the two-story turret adds a scenic enclave and even more natural light to the living room and master bedroom.
An even more archaic element is the narrow and winding maid’s stairwell, which provides a direct path between the kitchen and second floor. Drommerhausen says the fragile stairs are not in active use. “In my 17 years working in the area, it’s not often we see Victorian details preserved to this level.”
Four bedrooms, an office, and the second bathroom fit comfortably onto one full upstairs level and a smaller attic space. A large deck extends from the office, built atop the new parlor. The sharply pitched roof robs some of the upstairs rooms of headspace but it’s right in character with the attic’s bedroom, a perfect post-collegiate retreat accessed by a floating staircase.
Old Norwood is a standout district—unique in Chicago for its elliptical street layout dictated by an old racetrack beneath (in Google satelite view, it looks like an crop circle). East and West Circle Avenues mark the track itself and contain some of the grandest homes, in widely varying styles. “The neighborhood has a strong historical society, and there’s a walk every year where people open their doors to the public,” says Drommerhausen.
Several blocks to the east of today's property sits the oldest home around—and, disputably, the oldest house in Chicago—the Noble-Seymour-Crippen House. For people who live to debate these things, the Noble-Seymour-Crippen is certifiably older than the Prairie District’s Clarke House (1833 vs. 1836). But it only became a Chicago address after the annexation of Norwood Park in 1893, and only the farmhouse portion goes back to 1833—the Italianate addition came in 1868. Is it the oldest? It all depends how true one is to municipal origins.
Price Points: The seller, who is downsizing, wants $639,900 for the home—a normal markup over the 2005 purchase price of $505,000, when upgrades and demand for quality property in Old Norwood are taken into account. According to Drommerhausen, there have been four showings in the property’s first week on the market.