Maybe you’re not the kind of house enthusiast who turns up at realtors’ open houses just to take a tour when you have no intention of moving, and maybe you’ve never stolen a look in your neighbors’ windows from your perch on the sidewalk on an evening’s walk, but for the vast majority of us living in this rarefied neighborhood, homes are a bit of an obsession. 

Surrounded as we are by architectural significance, interesting remodels and plenty of creative neighbors, there is always something worth looking at. 

Here at WJ Homes, we try to provide a weekly peak into the world of local real estate, and 2017 provided a year’s worth of material. 


We took a look at a Gunderson remodel in South Oak Park. The residence, 1031 Home Ave., Adrian and Jeff Fisher’s long-time family home, won a Historic Preservation Award for the historically sympathetic exterior remodel, helmed by neighbor and architect Chris Goode. 

They replaced asphalt siding with yellow clapboard and removed a non-original sleeping porch while recreating a front porch that resembles what the house would have sported when first built.


A focus on 1228 North Austin Blvd. revealed an upswing in vintage apartment rentals in the village. 

The 1920s-era building is representative of much of the housing stock on Austin Boulevard and is one of the many vintage buildings rehabilitated by Oak Park Apartments that feed a booming rental market in Oak Park.


We invited ourselves and most of the village along for a sneak peek into E.E. Roberts’ stunning Queen Anne style home at 417 N. Kenilworth Ave. 

Set on almost an acre in the heart of Oak Park’s Frank Lloyd Wright Historic District, the home boasts six bedrooms, a bowling alley, a conservatory and masses of hydrangeas that bloom every summer.


We toured several kitchens in anticipation of the New Moms (formerly Parenthesis) annual Kitchen Walk. 

From Oak Park homes featuring kitchen fireplaces and 10-foot long islands, to a River Forest kitchen inspired by a French l’orangerie, the kitchen walk helps countless homeowners plan their own kitchen remodels, or at least fantasize for a day about cooking in one of these beautifully designed kitchens.


We hit the streets walking with the annual Wright Plus housewalk. On this, the pinnacle of all housewalks, the 2017 lineup included a walkable tour of homes on Kenilworth, Forest Avenue, Chicago Avenue and Elizabeth Court. 

New to the walk, the George Mayo House on Elizabeth Court drew long lines to get a glimpse of one of Oak Park’s oldest brick homes.


The congregation of Unity Temple and Frank Lloyd Wright aficionados celebrated the reopening of Wright’s Unity Tempe after an extensive rehabilitation project. 

The two-year process was comprehensive, touching the building’s exterior, mechanical systems and interior finishes, while returning the building to its original glory.


New construction in River Forest is nothing new, but 924 Ashland Ave. represented a new construction milestone of sorts for the village. 

One of two newly-built homes constructed on the lot that once housed the Mars Mansion, 924 Ashland Ave. hit the market asking $3.685 million for over 8,200 square feet of living space with all the bells and whistles of large bathrooms, open floor plans and walk-in closets not offered by estate homes of earlier eras.

The house is still on the market.


In River Forest, an estate representing the flipside of the coin — historic preservation — hit the market. The home at 344 Keystone Ave. was built in 1883 for William Blocki, a pharmacist in Chicago’s Palmer House Hotel. 

Current owners Maureen and John Heakin took on a labor of love in restoring the home and creating a carriage house out of an exterior building that formerly house an indoor pool.

The house is listed for $1.65 million.


In September, we toured 202 S. Euclid Ave. in Oak Park, a home built in 1902 by architect James Fyfe. 

After years of remodeling that created period appropriate bathrooms and a designer kitchen, the home hit the market for $1,475,000, complete with dog washing station in the basement and original prohibition-era security measures in place in the two story garage.


During October, we toured a newly built home at 837 N. Taylor Ave. in Oak Park. The first Oak Park flip by Riverside couple Caren and Nicholas Isopo, the house replaced an older bungalow that had seen better days. The couple worked to capture the best of old house architecture, with an open front porch and clapboard siding, alongside the best of new design, with a kitchen that opens to a family room and plenty of bedrooms and bathrooms for a family to spread out.


In November, shades of Downtown Abbey in Oak Park hit the market with 420 N. Euclid Ave. 

The Tudor style home designed by architect Charles White sits on one third of a block. Its leaded-glass windows, original woodwork and gracious architecture identified the large home as an estate home in the early 1900s and remain today to welcome another family.


Local architect Tom Bassett-Dilley took us along for the ride with a tour of his and Oak Park’s first modular home. 

Constructed largely offsite in Indiana, the home at 624 N. Taylor Ave. is composed of six modular units, which under the supervision of Bassett-Dilley, were constructed to provide a less-costly, but still green alternative to passive house building techniques.

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