Seward Gunderson home in Oak Park sells quickly

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By Ken Trainor

Staff writer

According to a notice in Chicago Magazine recently, Seward Gunderson's home in Oak Park sold quickly and for close to its asking price. The home on the southwest corner of Jackson and Elmwood was the centerpiece of the S.T. Gunderson and Sons development, which extends from Madison to Harrison, covering the west side of Ridgeland, the east side of Gunderson and both sides of Elmwood. A few years back, it was declared the village's third historic district.

This "substantial Victorian," which includes a large third-floor ballroom, was built in 1906. Seward and his family moved in, while his brother George (the other "son") moved in across the street. Reportedly, they would throw dinner parties and cross from one house to the other under a canopy. Dancing in the ballroom ensued.

The house sold in 15 days for $840,000. The list price was $890,000. Roy and Toni Horras paid $260,000 for it when they moved in back in 1992. The youngest of their four children is entering his final year of high school and the Horrases are moving to a smaller home in Elmwood Park.

Realtor Trevor Good of Weichert Realtors, said in the article that they used history as a selling point, and that was one of the prime factors in its quick sale — something, perhaps for other Oak Park heritage homeowners to keep in mind.


Reader Comments

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Terry O'Kelly from Carlisle, MA  

Posted: August 5th, 2011 1:58 PM

The eleven O'Brien males were graced by only two females: the ever patient Mrs. O'Brien and Miss Muggs, a beautiful and lovable boxer who would sit on the front porch in the evening and politely call for one of the boys to open the door. One Christmas there was a Corvette Stingray with a bow on it in front of the house, probably a college graduation gift for Mike O'Brien. That's when I first started to think about going to college.

Gregory O'Kelly from San Luis Obispo, CA  

Posted: August 5th, 2011 1:28 PM

I lived at 700 Elmwood, across the street from this house, with my seven brothers and sisters from 1958 until I left in '66, but the family remained into the mid 70s. Had great fun with the O'Briens and all the kids on the block. Remember the scribbling on the wall in the attic of 701, with an arrow pointing into a closet, reading "this way to Hoboken". Brother Paul broke his arm falling off O'Brien's front porch.

Phil of Ideas  

Posted: August 5th, 2011 12:30 PM

@Another taxpayer: You are obviously bitter at the family for "leaving the community." Tell you what: spend lots of time in our library and parks so that you can get the full benefit of your taxes. You are clearly doing this accounting already. Sheesh!

epic lulz  

Posted: August 5th, 2011 7:40 AM

5.6% below asking price is damn close to asking price, especially in this housing market. Selling in 15 days is extraordinary.

another taxpayer from Oak Park  

Posted: August 5th, 2011 6:16 AM

It's great that the house sold quickly - although 50k below asking is not close to the asking price, by the way. However, this is one of the problems Oak Park faces - this family educated 4 kids here, received great benefits from Oak Park, and will now be leaving the community without contributing to the tax base without educating children here - in short, their return on investment was probably about 400% - will they pay tuition for the youngest son now that they will live out of district?

M on Ridgeland from Oak Park  

Posted: August 4th, 2011 3:38 PM

Attended OPRFHS graduation party (1974) at that house. Was classmate of Sharon Scotty and had a great time at party on the third floor ballroom. That is a big house.

Mike Scotty from Oak Park  

Posted: August 4th, 2011 10:13 AM

Fertile acres indeed. At a block party in the mid-70s, they counted the kids on the block. Over 150! Not sure if that counted high school kids or not.

Tom Scotty from La Grange Park, IL  

Posted: August 4th, 2011 9:22 AM

Like the O'Brien's before us, my 9 brothers and sisters and I, and our parents Jim and Helen Scotty, enjoyed Old Man Gunderson's house from 1969 until 1992. When I was a kid, we were fortunate to have the whole street blocked off during summers because of the massive amounts of children. Lots of great memories at 701, from the backyard tree swing, to all the secret hiding places, and especially shooting pool in the ballroom when we were supposed to be doing homework!

Casey O'Brien from Batavia, IL.  

Posted: August 3rd, 2011 9:53 PM

I want to give a big thanks to Roy and Toni Horras for the memorable tour they gave us, and the Oak Park Historical Society I wish them many blessings on their move into their new home. Thanks!

Casey O'Brien from Batavia  

Posted: August 3rd, 2011 9:42 PM

Yep just like my brother Dennis (above) said. At that time every other house in that whole area had 6 to 10 kids per family. Back then they called it "Fertile Acre's." Baseball in the streets, football in the front yards extending 3 to 4 house's in a row, with a game of kick the can at sun down after all the kids had their dinner. The neighborhood was mostly Irish with family names like, O'Kelly, O'Brien, Mulryan, Fitzgerald, McNearney,... Never a dull moment on good 'ol South Elmwood. ;)

Editor from Oak Park  

Posted: August 3rd, 2011 9:22 PM

The home is very nice. The new buyers not only have a new home, they have part of Oak Park's History. Wish Dr. Roy and Toni, all the best in their move.

Dennis O'Brien from St. Charles IL  

Posted: August 3rd, 2011 9:12 PM

I and my nine brothers lived in this house from 1955 until 1969......have a lot of memories there......great home.....

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