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List Price: $4.954 million
The Property: On an elite wooded street in east Northbrook stands a substantial house with exterior details that you might find on some historical country homes in England. A tall façade with a basketweave pattern in the brick, heavy stone frames around the windows and arched front door, a swirling imprint over one window—to look at it, you would think the house had been built for a king.
Instead, it was built for a champion: Jim McMahon, quarterback of the Super Bowl-winning 1985 Chicago Bears. McMahon and his now ex-wife, Nancy, built the house in 1986 and raised their family there. In 2009, I reported that they had sold the house to their neighbors, Richard and Kathryn Eisen, for $2.85 million. At the time, the Eisens’ agent told me that his clients were going to update it before either selling or moving in. Three years later, the Eisens have the house on the market.
The changes they made inside brought the house out of the 1980s and into the 21st century. As you will see in today’s video, the two-story foyer with a walk-around balcony isn’t much changed other than the carpeting, but the library has a rich new look thanks to extensive millwork on the walls and ceiling and an onyx-lined bathroom next door. The living room has new wood trim and a refaced fireplace. Unchanged—and why would you alter such beautiful touches?—are the tall leaded-glass windows and doors all around that frame views of the property’s three-plus acres.
Major changes happened in the kitchen, where 1980s oak cabinets were yanked out and consigned to the garage. In their place is a showcase kitchen with hand-finished cabinetry, a tiled oven cove, and a five-by-nine-foot island. Into the island and the wall cabinetry are tucked drawers for warming and dishwashing and chilling wine. Arrayed around the kitchen are a series of spaces: the sharpest laundry room I’ve seen all year, a large breakfast area with a pretty view and more custom cabinetry, and a large family room.
On the second floor is an enlarged hallway area onto which four bedrooms and a movie room all open. Each of the bedrooms is nice—one is two stories high, another has a turret—and while having a movie room is not uncommon in a home of this caliber, having it on the bedroom floor instead of the basement is, and it enhances the family friendliness.
At the other end of the second floor is the master suite. The bedroom is a pretty haven with a high ceiling, windows and a balcony overlooking the yard, and a fireplace. The master closets and bath have been extensively redone, beginning with a tiled, barrel-vaulted ceiling in the hallway, double closets (unfinished, and with a $25,000 allowance from the sellers for building them out), and a well-outfitted bath complete with a big soaking tub set beneath leaded-glass windows.
In the very large basement is a newly done spa area that incorporates the McMahons’ double locker rooms and sauna. Around the corner, Jim McMahon’s tenure is most evident: His own workout machines are still here, along with a “No Shoulder Work Ahead” sign that commemorates his surgery for a shoulder injury. After a vigorous workout, it might be nice to sit by the basement fireplace, which, like the three others in the house, has been modernized as part of prepping the house for another championship season.
Price Points: The Eisens put the house on the market in July with an asking price of $5.454 million. Two subsequent price cuts got it to the present price. Their agent, Lori Stiff, says the extensive updating accounts for the $2.1 million spread between her clients’ purchase price and what they are asking now.