This Fully Renovated North Side Victorian Could Be Yours for $2.4 Million | Chicago magazine | Real Estate & Neighborhoods March 2019
A stately and thoroughly renovated Victorian house in the Lakewood Balmoral Historic District is up for grabs — if you have $2.4 million. Built on a double lot on the corner of Magnolia and Balmoral avenues, the 5,800-square-foot residence is equidistant from both the lakefront and Andersonville’s Clark Street corridor.
Dating to the 1880s, the house on 5402 North Magnolia Avenue is big on curb appeal, often eliciting attention from passersby, says @properties broker and listing agent Joanne DeSanctis. The home’s exterior ornamentation, complete with a brick turret, is particularly distinctive.
“You know how every neighborhood has that house? It’s that house,” DeSanctis says. It was precisely this notion that led homeowners Scott Garland and Jim Pawelski to purchase and renovate the building. “I had already lived in the neighborhood for 10 years prior to buying the house but had often walked by and admired it,” Garland says.
The pair heard about the Victorian’s availability through one of Garland’s previous landlords who knew the former homeowner. They purchased it in 2004, then spent a year restoring it. According to Garland, a licensed architect, the property was used for decades by the nearby Unity Lutheran Church as a rooming house. Carved up into numerous bedrooms for volunteers and visitors, it had to be totally overhauled.
“Our process was to be true to the heritage and history of the house but make it modern,” Pawelski says, noting that the previous owner had wanted to sell to a buyer who appreciated the home’s history. “We wanted to make sure that we had a home and not a museum.”
The couple restored the main staircase and much of the original wood trim, while the kitchen and bathrooms were gutted and rebuilt. The basement level was outfitted with radiant floor heating and a fireplace. Out back, the large, 50-foot lot is verdant, landscaped with daffodils and other greenery.
Hosts of frequent, large gatherings, Garland and Pawelski conceived of a floor plan that was intimate yet roomy enough to accommodate their friends. Guests entering from the building’s front pass through a spacious front porch that opens to a traditional foyer. “One of the things I enjoy the most is when you come in through the front, you can see the entire house,” Garland says. “I just love that I’m able to take it all in at one time.”
After 15 years in the Victorian, the pair is ready to move on to the next project. “We both have been through other renovations in homes, so going through this and seeing what we were able to achieve gives us the itch to try it again,” Pawelski says. “But the great thing is that we feel like we’re leaving the house in better condition than we found it.”
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