When 214 S. Euclid Ave. in Oak Park was the final house constructed on the block in 1940, it stood apart from a sea of Victorian- and Prairie-style homes. One of the few homes in the Art Moderne style ever constructed in the village, the house began life on the cutting edge. When the current owners, architects Daniela Blanco and Daniel Mazeiro, purchased the home in 2002, the home needed updates, and update they did.
The 2004 addition more than doubled the square footage of the home. While original elements were respected during the remodeling, a contemporary design ethos was also incorporated. With a rear wall of glass, the new addition adds a modern element to the block unlike any seen before.
History of the Roy Davis House
In 1885, William Rony purchased the lots now occupied by 210 and 214 S. Euclid. He sold both lots to a neighbor in 1895, who retained them until 1933. Roy Davis purchased one lot in 1939 and, in 1940, obtained a building permit to construct his home for $18,000 and a garage for $350.
Davis hired Oak Park architect Charles Kirsten to design the house. Kirsten arrived in the U.S. from Austria-Hungary in 1906, and worked for the Chicago firm Marshall and Fox, which designed the Drake Hotel. The home is the only known Kirsten house in the Art moderne style.
An offshoot of the Art Deco movement, Art Moderne represented a direct contrast to Art Deco’s emphasis on rich colors, geometric shapes and bold decoration. In the wake of the stock market crash of 1929, Art moderne was a more budget-conscious, streamlined style characterized by horizontal lines and the modern, aerodynamic principles being used in the design of ships, airplanes and cars.
In the Roy Davis House, Art Moderne elements are seen in the subdued color scheme, the chrome hardware, the use of glass block, the flat roof and the nautical elements such as porthole windows and circular light fixtures.
Davis, who was a partner in a commercial art firm, lived in the house with his family until 1946. He sold it to John Romano, a doctor at Oak Park and Loretto hospitals, whose wife, Henrietta, was the daughter of the founder of Gonnella Baking Company. In 1964, the Romano family sold the home to First Congregational Church, which used it to house ministers. There were two more owners before Blanco and Mazeiro purchased the home in 2002.
A study in contrast
Daniela Blanco recalls that the home was remodeled based on her husband’s vision.
“He designed it,” she said, “and I acted as more of the client. The house is his child.”
But the two architects shared a vision of not only creating more space for their family but doing so in a very specific manner.
Of their design choices, Blanco said, “You know how you sometimes have an addition that blends in so well to the original that you can’t tell what is old and what is new? We did the opposite of that. There is a clear transition between old and new.”
The 2,400-square-foot, two-story addition features a kitchen that opens to a new family room. The master suite above spans the width of the house. Kelly Fondow, with Oak Park’s Weichert Realtors-Nickle Group, who is listing the house for $1,450,000, noted that almost the entire interior of the home is new.
“A lot of really horrible things had been done to take away the Art moderne style of the original home,” Fondow said, “and they brought them back, along with an insane upgrade of the mechanicals. Right down to the Brazilian hardwood decks outside, every detail is just over the top.”
On the first floor, the original house flows into a new kitchen and family room. The addition sports heated slate floors, a fireplace, and a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows that connect the indoors to the outdoors. In the kitchen, red custom cabinetry conceals Sub Zero refrigerators and freezers. Custom wood cabinetry on the north-facing wall features a transom to allow natural light into the room.
Blanco says the first-floor addition is one of her favorite rooms.
“I call the kitchen command central,” she said. “It’s very comfortable. Because of the decks off the addition and the gardens, I can see everything we planted in the backyard growing. The fact that it’s all glass means I can see the yard from almost anywhere on the first floor. I enjoy it in the summer and the winter.”
In the backyard, a newly built garage includes a car lift for a third car. Decks surround the new garage as well as the rear of the home, and a wall of bamboo conceals the yard from the neighbors.
A first-floor bedroom has an en suite bathroom, making it useful as a guest room or separate office. On the second floor, one original bedroom has an en suite bathroom and access to a roof top deck, and another two bedrooms share a third full bathroom.
Fondow noted that each of the rooms was remodeled with care.
“Every room has its own dressing space,” she noted, “which means you don’t have to have a lot of dressers in the main bedrooms. There is a lot of continuity between the bathrooms with the tiles and fixtures throughout the house.”
A glass bridge leads from the original second floor to the new master suite. The master bedroom has floor-to-ceiling windows looking over the backyard. A dressing room provides plenty of space for his-and-her clothes storage. The master bathroom has an infinity bath tub, a separate shower, double sinks and skylights.
“The house is just filled, filled, filled with natural light,” Fondow said.
The original basement of the home has the home’s third fireplace and a bar in the second family room, as well as another full bathroom. Five heating and cooling zones, as well as a back-up generator provide comfort through all seasons.
Fondow said no expense was spared in the remodel, but in spite of the high-end finishes, the home is nonetheless comfortable.
“I think it’s one of Oak Park’s true treasures,” she said. “I hope the next buyer will be someone who wants to be in Oak Park but doesn’t want a traditional home. It’s got great square footage and is so family-friendly.”