630 S. Kenilworth, Oak Park

A neighborhood in south Oak Park may have turned down historic district status in 2015, but the imprint of developer Thomas Hulbert that makes the area unique continues to draw in families looking for the ideal Oak Park experience. 

Between Madison Street and the Eisenhower and Oak Park and Harlem avenues, the blocks making up this enclave are ripe with historic houses, green lawns and blocks made for block parties. 

After completing his first subdivision in the Chicago area in 1890 in Humboldt Park, Hulbert turned to Oak Park for his next real estate foray. Hulbert advertised his homes to middle class families, touting the development’s affordability, safety and access to Chicago via a new el station.

Sold between 1905 to 1913, the homes were designed in a number of styles including Craftsman, Queen Anne and American Four Square. Roughly 158 Hulbert-designed homes remain in the neighborhood today.

A recent real estate listing at 630 S. Kenilworth Ave. in the heart of the Hulbert-designed neighborhood has several claims to fame, including the legend that the house was home to Thomas Hulbert himself. 

Built in 1913, the home has Queen Anne and Victorian characteristics, including a deep front porch with a beadboard ceiling, dark woodwork, a plethora of built-in cabinetry and colorful leaded glass windows.

Michael Nowicki, who is listing the house on behalf of Ideal Location Oak Park, notes that the house has another rumored connection to fame. Author Carol Shields, who was born in Oak Park in 1935, is said to have lived across the street from the house and her Pulitzer-prize winning novel “The Stone Diaries” features a character of an architect who is supposed to be loosely modeled on Hulbert.

Walking into the house is a step back in time through the original front door with its art-glass inset and a trio of art-glass windows. The formal living room’s fireplace is flanked by built-in bookcases with leaded-glass fronts, atop which sits more art-glass windows bearing the diamond-shaped Craftsman motif. 

The living room flows to the dining room, which Nowicki calls his favorite room in the house. 

“It’s a complete throwback to a Great Gatsby-like era of opulence,” Nowicki said.

The original wood wainscoting gives the room a dramatic feel and original light fixtures and french doors bring an early 20th-century feel to the space.

The home features four bedrooms, with many original sets of built-in cabinets, and a full bath on the second floor as well as an unfinished attic space that is dormered and ready for renovators.

Beyond the history in the home, it also comes with something that is hard to come by in the densely settled suburb of Oak Park — lots of land. The listing includes two lots, each measuring 150 feet deep. The home sits on a lot that is roughly 37.5 feet wide, according to the Cook County Assessor, and the vacant lot to its south is 50 feet wide.

“I don’t think there’s another house in south Oak Park that has a 50-foot lot,” Nowicki said.

While the lots have separate property index numbers and could be divided, Nowicki says, “The ideal buyer is someone who wants both together.” The lots are priced together at $850,000.

The house has been much loved by its previous owners and could use some updating, 

“It’s hard to come into this house and not see all the potential,” Nowicki said.

Nowicki also recently listed 734 Clinton Ave. for sale. Just a block from his Kenilworth Avenue listing, 734 Clinton Ave. is also a Hulbert home. Built in 1911, this house also sports stunning art glass and old-world charm with original woodwork and built-in cabinets. 

Updated and expanded to include five bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms, the house is recently under contract at an asking price of $865,000.

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