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Dennis Rodkin is a senior reporter covering residential real estate for Crain’s Chicago Business. He joined Crain’s in 2014 and has been covering real estate in Chicago since 1991.
A pair of Prairie Avenue mansions will become private homes again for the first time since the 1920s, an agent for the buyers confirmed.
The two connected 19th-century houses were sold by the U.S. Soccer Federation, which had kept its office there for three decades before moving to a Wacker Drive tower last year. The group put the pair at 1801 and 1811 S. Prairie Ave. on the market in January. When they went under contract to a buyer in July, the sellers’ agent told Crain’s she believed the buyers were planning to put both back into residential use.
The sale closed Aug. 11, with a yet-undisclosed buyer paying $3.9 million. Mariam Moeinzadeh, the Compass agent who represented the buyers, wrote in a text message this morning that “the buyers’ intention is to return the property back to its original single-family residential use and restoring the charm of the mansions.”
Moeinzadeh said the buyers have not not yet determined whether the entire 29,000-square-foot pair will be used as a single home or if the two mansions will be divided from one another and used as two separate homes.
While the mansions themselves don’t share a wall, their coach houses out back are connected, giving the complex a U-shaped footprint. A parking lot now separates the two mansions and presumably would become yard space for the new residents.
The pair’s return to private residential use is a notable turn in the history of the Prairie Avenue district. The redstone house at right in the photo was built in 1886 and the limestone building at left in 1892. At the time, Prairie Avenue was “an exclusive address for Chicago’s elite,” according to the Encyclopedia of Chicago. Business leaders like Marshall Field and George Pullman built mansions there “because it was near the Loop and it did not require its residents to cross the Chicago River,” the encyclopedia says.
The neighborhood began to lose its appeal as sooty manufacturing districts and a vice district encroached around the edges, according to the encyclopedia, and higher-end homes began to dominate the north lakefront. In the 20th century, several Prairie Avenue mansions were demolished, and others, including these two, went to new uses.
The limestone house, originally home to piano and organ manufacturer William Kimball and his wife, Evalyne, became a boarding house after she died in 1921 and, according to a history published by the Glessner House across the street, became an architects’ club in 1924. It has not been a private residence at any time since.
The redstone house, originally home to hardware retailer Joseph Coleman and his wife, Leonora, became the offices of a publishing firm in 1921 and has not been residential since then.
Thus, it’s been a little more than a century since one building was a private home, and a little less than a century for the other.
The houses have been used as a pair since 1947, when they were purchased separately by the Domestic Engineering publishing company.
The soccer federation took occupancy in 1991, several years before Prairie Avenue began its revival as a prime residential neighborhood, in tandem with the construction of Dearborn Park, Central Station and other modern residential sections of the South Loop.
Dennis Rodkin is a senior reporter covering residential real estate for Crain’s Chicago Business. He joined Crain’s in 2014 and has been covering real estate in Chicago since 1991.
It’s a lower-cost counterpart to the higher-end homes built all around the neighborhood.
In the contest between tight inventory and high interest rates, tight inventory appears to be winning.
A portion of the home dates back to the 1850s.
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