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Local television news anchor Zoriada Sambolin announced in November that she was leaving her post at Chicago's NBC 5 to co-anchor a morning newscast on CNN, necessitating a move to New York City. The Big Apple's gain may be Chicago's loss, but any potential homebuyer stands to get quite a lot if they scoop up Sambolin's Oak Park home.
The mansion, located on the 500 block of N. Euclid Ave., was designed in 1905 by Prairie School aficionado George Washington Maher, a prominent Chicago-area architect, whose work includes many homes in the suburbs, including Oak Park's landmark Pleasant Home.
By the time Maher was commissioned by advertising executive Charles R. Erwin to build this home on Euclid Avenue, Maher was beginning to be influenced by England's Arts & Crafts Movement, and the home bears many hallmarks of that style. Erwin and his wife raised 10 children in the home. The land around it used to include five lots, but now sits on roughly half an acre.
Sambolin and her husband purchased the home in 2004 for $1 million and took on several months of renovations before moving into the house. During the renovation period, the home was used as the American Society of Interior Designers' showcase house, adding many new decorative touches to the revamped interior.
Baird and Warner agent Patricia McDonald is listing the home for $1.8 million and emphasizes that the six bedroom, 4 1/2 bath house is perfect for a family.
"With the large living spaces as well as abundant outdoor areas for entertaining, this home is an entertainer's delight and great for warm family gatherings," she says.
Upon first entering the home, Maher's design motif for the house is immediately recognizable. Lotus flowers are present in the glass inserts of the entry doors. The entry vestibule is lighted by two lotus flower sconces flanking the door, and the theme is carried throughout the home in both the art glass and the lighting fixtures.
The first floor entry bears many of the hallmarks of Maher's original design. Built-in benches line the steps up to the room which still sports the original tile floor, brick fireplace, and four art-glass pendants bearing the lotus flower motif.
Throughout the first floor, the original woodwork glows. Ceiling beams in the living room and wainscoting in the dining room are enhanced by complementary radiator covers and built-in cabinets.
A library and powder room at the front of the house give way to a formal dining room and living room with sweeping views of the back yard. The 100x175-foot lot is large enough for both an in-ground heated pool and swing-set, which are overlooked by a wrap-around screened porch. Lush plantings provide a sense of seclusion in the outdoor spaces.
The kitchen was completely overhauled and features radiant-heated stone floors, a large granite-topped center island, professional grade appliances and a wine fridge. McDonald says the built-in pizza oven was a must-have for Sambolin's family, and it stands as a hearth-like centerpiece to the gourmet kitchen.
One of the original features that made sense when the home was built in 1905 has been readily adapted to more modern lifestyles. The covered side entrance once offered guests and residents the opportunity to exit their carriages and enter the home through a small side room without having to bear the brunt of inclement weather. Today, the side room has become a mudroom featuring an entire wall of wooden storage lockers. At the rear of the home, the attached garage has been expanded to hold three cars, and another mudroom and storage room connects the garage to the home, allowing weather-free car entry during all seasons.
Maher's staircase to the second floor remains a testament to his design skills. Three-tiered, they feature a curved balustrade and an arched, art glass window between the first and second floors. The second floor landing echoes the formal entry below with another fireplace, four floral-motif art glass pendants and ample space to be used as a family room or study with original built-in storage cabinets.
McDonald notes that Sambolin's renovations included creating the ultimate master suite out of two smaller bedrooms. "The master bedroom is now a great-sized room with ample room for a sitting area."
The suite includes a sizeable, walk-in closet with customized built-in storage. Across the hall, a private dressing room provides more custom cabinetry, a built in vanity with granite countertops, a sink and its own mini-refrigerator. The luxurious master bath includes his and hers sinks, a separate shower, radiant heat flooring and a Thermo Masseur soaking tub.
The second floor also includes a guest suite with a private bath. Two more bedrooms share a Jack and Jill bath, and the floor is rounded out by two additional bedrooms. A second staircase from the kitchen leads up to both the second and the third floor, which Sambolin also finished as a retreat for both children and adults.
One room is set up to be the perfect children's playroom with built-in cabinets and a sink for cleaning up after craft projects. A large office space allows plenty of room for the parents to work, and an additional family room makes a great home theater, complete with its own granite-topped bar, sink and refrigerator.
McDonald praises the livability of the architecturally significant home.
"I just love the French doors in the living room that lead out the porch," she says. "From the living room, you can see both the front yard and the backyard, so you can see the pool and the backyard from the inside and there is easy outdoor access. It truly is a wonderful home."
Across the street, a home that was listed for $1.25 million by Baird and Warner, is scheduled to close later this month. In a tough real estate market, McDonald won't conjecture what it means to have multiple mansions available on one block in such a short time frame, but believes that the family-friendly home sizes, as well as a central Oak Park location, are things that appeal to a wide variety of potential buyers.
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