His name might not be on the tip of anyone’s tongue today, but at the turn of the last century, architect Frank O. DeMoney was a pillar of the Oak Park community.
Good friends with realtor Seward Gunderson, whose Gunderson subdivisions would populate much of South Oak Park, DeMoney is credited with designing more than 220 homes in the village.
One of those homes, now a historic landmark, showcases the DeMoney style while also telling the quintessential story of an Oak Park house.
Built in 1913 for John J. Miller, the house at 337 S. Elmwood Ave. graces the corner of Elmwood Avenue and Washington Boulevard. The sturdy brick structure originally boasted a deep wrap-around porch and a sharp green tiled roof, but decades of owners and changing tastes had left the house the worse for wear when Patrick Scanlan and his family bought the house in 2004.
“This was a full gut,” Scanlan said of the home’s interior in 2004. “It was hideous.”
Over the course of four years, he hired contractors to help transform much of the interior of the house, from the kitchen and bathrooms to the sun porch and basement.
The exterior needed some love as well. The brick pillars marking off the corners of the lot were deteriorating and had to be rebuilt. The green tile roof needed repair and was painstakingly restored to be both functional and retain its original appearance. The garage’s new roof was created in a similar Spanish tile design.
Like many Oak Park homes, the original features of 337 S. Elmwood Ave. were less than valued during the 1950s and 1960s. The original oak woodwork gained a few layers of paint, and the walls saw as much as 10 layers of wallpaper. Even the fireplace was redone in a 1950s style, and the white oak beadboard ceiling on the porch had been covered up.
Part of Scanlan’s restoration included honoring what was original and knowing where to add new items. The beadboard ceiling of the porch was uncovered and restored, and the enclosed portion of the porch became an entertaining room with a long bar topped with soapstone.
The new kitchen, designed by Oak Park contractors Von Dreele Freerksen, includes a marble-topped island, oak cabinets, farm sink and an eat-in banquet.
The side-entrance to the house was originally used by the ice man to make deliveries directly into the kitchen. No longer needing access for ice delivery, Scanlan turned the side entry into a practical mudroom.
Under the front staircase, a door reveals a hidden nook complete with electricity for any child looking to recreate a Harry Potter moment under the stairs. A completely updated powder room includes onyx flooring and a stained-glass window.
Scanlan says he chose the onyx himself and points out that many of the design touches throughout the house are his, saying, “I work in finance, but come from an artistic family. We have an eye for design.”
The staircase itself sports its original woodwork, with a shield cutout design, which is echoed in the restored stained-glass windows on the stair landing. Upstairs, each of the four bedrooms has two windows and a closet.
The large landing has a shared bathroom for the kids, and a large laundry room. An updated bathroom outside the master bedroom looks original but is brand new. A heated tile floor, separate shower, restored empire bathtub and surround sound system make the room feel luxurious.
An attic offers finished space for a rec room or teen retreat, and the finished basement sports 11-foot-high ceilings. A full bathroom with a walk-in shower was added to the space as well. Scanlan points out that with two methods of egress, the basement could be converted to a rental apartment.
The fun doesn’t stop inside the house. Scanlan says that every shrub and plant in the backyard was a part of the new landscape design, and Kevin Hibbits, who designed the pergola at Oak Park restaurant Maya del Sol, designed the pergola in the backyard.
For the right person, the garage might just be the selling point. The garage is lined with beadboard paneling and wired for music and television watching.
“I’m a South Sider, and we used to always watch TV in the garage,” Scanlan said. “There was never enough space in the house.”
Now, he’s hosted movie-watching parties for his kids outside and also uses the garage as a workshop.
Scanlan’s restoration of the home has readied the Prairie-style landmark to survive the next century, but he’s ready to move on to something new. He has listed the home for sale with Michael Giliano of Compass Realty for $1.2 million.