Take a look at an 1890s Gold Coast mansion that’s coming back as condos

Take a look at an 1890s Gold Coast mansion that's coming back as condos

This 19th century Gold Coast mansion to be reborn as four new condominiums with restored original interior details.

Crain's Chicago
September 20, 2023
Dennis Rodkin

A 19th-century Gold Coast mansion that sorely needed a rehab when a developer bought it in 2021 is re-emerging as a handsomely restored historical facade with four new condominiums inside and a sprinkling of original interior details restored.

The imposing facade of orange brick trimmed with terra cotta and copper might look unfamiliar to people who haven’t seen the building, at 1508 N. State Parkway, since before the work began. That’s because it used to be draped, from its cornice four stories down to the sidewalk, with ivy, as seen in this Chicago magazine story from 2013.

“When the 50 years of ivy got taken off, I was more nervous because of the damage it had done over the years to all this brick and terra cotta,” says Cory Robertson, one of two Jameson Sotheby’s International Realty agents representing the condos for developer ZSD.

Restoration is months from completion, but two of the four condos are already under contract to buyers. One, on the top floor, had an asking price of $3.1 million, and the other, on the ground floor, was just under $2 million. Robertson cannot disclose the sale prices until the deals close, when the condos are delivered to their new owners, now scheduled for February.

A four-bedroom, roughly 4,000-square-foot unit with the most original details and a big rooftop deck over the old coach house went on the market Sept. 18 at a little under $3.5 million, and another, a 2,600-square-foot four-bedroom, will go up for sale in a few weeks, Robertson said.

Because of the shape of the old building, narrowed in the back and with a former coach house attached by a latter-day extension of the house, the developers had a lot to work with in creating outdoor space. Three units have rooftop decks, all separate from one another, and the fourth has a large ground-level courtyard, as seen in the rendering below.

The combination of a vintage building and a gutted-and-rebuilt interior, Robertson says, is that “you have all the character, but everything is new.” Or almost everything, not counting the restored leaded glass windows, ceiling beams, stairway bench and fireplace.

The facade is Roman brick — a short, elongated type — with an ornate terra cotta cornice across the roofline and a matching copper band around the top of a window bay. Repairing all of it included matching undamaged portions of the copper with restamped replacement pieces.

As restored, it’s an attractive complement to the Madlener House, a Prairie Style landmark next door.

When ZSD bought the building in 2013, after it had lingered on the market for eight years, “you couldn’t see any of this,” Robertson says. Still to be installed is a wrought iron fence that mimics the pattern in the wrought iron over a window bay.

The unit that’s priced near $3.5 million was part of the main living space, both as the house was originally laid out for a single family in the 1890s and as the owners’ unit after the building was chopped into six units sometime before the early 1970s. As a result, it had the most vintage details available for reuse.

One fireplace was beyond repair, but the ceiling beams above it in the 45-foot-long living room are intact, and the marble fireplace in the next room, now the kitchen, is being rehabbed in place to prevent it falling apart in transit. The photo above shows the room in its mid-rehab state, with a rendering of its completed look on an easel in the foreground.

Most notable among the restored details are the original leaded-glass windows. Because the old glass didn’t meet the developer’s standards for energy savings, new glass has been installed. The patterned leading of the old windows, restored but with the glass removed, will be re-hung in their old openings next to the new glass.

The photo below shows a group of window that will have their glass reinstalled, and in the foreground an image of how that will look.

There’s a new elevator in the building, but upper-floor residents who prefer the stairs will walk up the original wood-paneled staircase, complete with a quaint bench built in at the bottom. Along the way, they’ll pass a restored half-circle of leaded glass, which had been bricked over when a high-rise apartment building went up next door in the mid-20th century.

Almost the entire steel structure supporting the house has been replaced as well, Robertson says, and the utilities and sound-deadening floors are all new. Each unit gets a single garage space in the old alley-side coach house.

The building was originally the mansion of Frederick S. Winston, an attorney who joined and later headed the Chicago law firm that his father, Frederick H. Winston, founded in 1853. F.S. Winston was the first attorney at the firm now known as Winston & Strawn to argue a case before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Sometime before John and Sandy Shelton bought it in the early 1970s, the house was divided into seven units. The Sheltons lived in the largest and rented out the rest. John Shelton died in 2000, and in 2013 Sandy Shelton put the building on the market at almost $10 million. Eight years later, she sold it to ZSD for $2.35 million.



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