Historic Hulbert homes hit the market

A neighborhood south of Oak Park may have been denied historic district status in 2015, but developer Thomas Hulbert’s imprint that makes the area unique continues to draw families looking for the ideal vacation experience. Oak Park.

Between Madison Street and Eisenhower and Oak Park and Harlem Avenues, the blocks that make up this enclave are filled with historic homes, green lawns and blocks made for block parties.

After completing his first Chicago-area subdivision in 1890 at Humboldt Park, Hulbert turned to Oak Park for his next real estate foray. Hulbert advertised his homes to middle-class families, touting affordability, safety and access to Chicago via a new el station.

Sold between 1905 and 1913, the houses were designed in a number of styles, including Craftsman, Queen Anne and American Four Square. About 158 ​​houses designed by Hulbert remain in the neighborhood today.

A recent real estate listing at 630 S. Kenilworth Ave. at the heart of the Hulbert-designed neighborhood has several claims to fame, including the legend that the house was the home of Thomas Hulbert himself.

Built in 1913, the home features Queen Anne and Victorian-era features, including a deep porch with a wood-panelled ceiling, dark wood paneling, a plethora of built-in wardrobes, and stained leaded glass windows.

Michael Nowicki, who lists the house on behalf of Ideal Location Oak Park, notes that the house has another supposed celebrity connection. Author Carol Shields, born in Oak Park in 1935, is said to have lived across from the house and her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel ‘The Stone Diaries’ features the character of an architect who is meant to be loosely modeled on Hubert.

Entering the house is a step back in time through the original front door with its art glass insert and a trio of art glass windows. The fireplace in the formal living room is flanked by built-in bookcases with leaded glass fronts, atop which are further art glass windows bearing the diamond-shaped Craftsman pattern.

The living room leads to the dining room, which Newicki calls his favorite room in the house.

“It’s a complete throwback to a time of Great Gatsby opulence,” Nowicki said.

The original wood paneling gives the room a dramatic feel and the original light fixtures and French doors bring an early 20th century feel to the space.

The home features four bedrooms, with many original sets of fitted wardrobes and a full bathroom on the second floor as well as an unfinished attic which is dormered and ready for renovators.

Beyond the home’s history, there’s also something that’s hard to come by in the densely populated suburb of Oak Park – lots of land. The listing includes two lots, each measuring 150 feet deep. The house sits on a lot about 37.5 feet wide, according to the Cook County assessor, and the vacant lot to the south is 50 feet wide.

“I don’t think there’s another home in South Oak Park that has a 50-foot lot,” Nowicki said.

Although the lots have separate property index numbers and can be divided, Nowicki says, “The ideal buyer is someone who wants both together.” The lots are priced at $850,000.

The house was much appreciated by its previous owners and could benefit from an update,

“It’s hard to walk into this house and not see all the potential,” Nowicki said.

Nowicki also recently listed 734 Clinton Ave. Just one block from its Kenilworth Avenue listing, 734 Clinton Ave. is also a Hulbert house. Built in 1911, this home also sports stunning art glasswork and old-world charm with original woodwork and built-in wardrobes.

Updated and expanded to include five bedrooms and 3.5 baths, the home is recently under contract at an asking price of $865,000.

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