The acclaimed architectural firm Pond & Pond built the nearly 6,000-square-foot home in 1899 for the University of Chicago medieval studies scholar James Westfall Thompson, six years after the World’s Fair was hosted nearby.
The Hyde Park area continues to attract professors enticed by the five-minute walk to campus, as well as medical professionals working at the University of Chicago Medical Center.
Let’s break down the exquisite craftsmanship across the three-level, eight-bedroom, 3.5-bathroom estate.
There are nine fireplaces, each with its original carved woodwork and ornate tiles. Diapering (crisscross brickwork design) on the exterior is another old-school highlight. Inside, you’ll find original design details, like built-in bookshelves, exposed-beam and barrel ceilings, as well as two clawfoot tubs—one cherry-red.
With all the space come perks. Two offices and a butler’s pantry off the kitchen are practically unheard of in a city dwelling.
“Allen and Irving [Pond] were contemporaries of Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright, and influenced by them,” she says. “Housing stock here [in Hyde Park] is from the period of time when architecture was coming into its own.”
One of Wright’s most respected projects, the Frederick C. Robie House, was built in 1909 six blocks away, and hosts tours today.
While O’Connor is angling for a buyer who adores historic properties, she’s also counting on someone committed to restoration.
“It’s a very special property that needs love,” the agent says.
It had been owned by the University of Chicago Shakespearean scholar David Bevington since the 1960s, she says, adding, “It needs new systems, a new kitchen, and a new bath.”
Bevington passed away in 2019, and the classic home needs a new champion.
“This is a project,” she explains. “This house needs somebody to love it and restore it.”
In recent years, O’Connor notes, families tired of commuting with their children to the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools from the North Side are buying in this leafy neighborhood, with its larger-than-normal lot sizes.
Hyde Park’s lot sizes average 100 feet by 300 feet, compared to 25 feet by 125 feet elsewhere in the city.
“You can get over a half-acre of land, in the city,” says O’Connor.
She says she’s also noticing city residents on the hunt for more square footage, thanks to the pandemic. This house delivers that, with a music room, an office and other intimate spaces.
“There are places for people to go in the house and not be on top of each other,” she says.
The property also includes a one-car garage. A Metra station a block away provides easy access to downtown Chicago and its suburbs.
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