On the edge

Take a tour of available homes River Forest's Edgewood Place

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By Lacey Sikora

Contributing Reporter

Blink, and you might miss it. River Forest's Edgewood Place is a street that runs for just two blocks. On the edge of the Forest Preserve and just off Lake Street, the curving street sees more deer per day than cars and is home to some of the area's most architecturally significant homes. 

Frank Lloyd Wright designed the Chauncey Williams House and the Isabel Roberts House, and other notable architects designed homes on the block as well. Three homes on the street recently hit the market, and each offers a take on a moment in time.

The George L. Thatcher House at 543 Edgewood Place is listed for $898,000. Built in 1898, the home's original owner was one of the sons of David T. Thatcher, the first white settler of River Forest. 

An attorney, George Thatcher studied law at then-Chicago University and later served as the village's attorney. Current owners Larry and Denise Dohman have lived in the Victorian home for over 30 years. 

Denise believes there may have been only four owners in the home's 100-year-plus history. 

"The people before us lived here 30-some years, and the people before them lived here that long, too," she said.

Larry Dohman notes that you are steeped in history before you even enter the home. He describes a large stone block, directly off the street, with the initials GLT carved into the stone. 

"It was to keep ladies' gowns from getting muddy when they stepped out of their carriages into the dirt street," Larry said. "It's a pretty unique feature."

The home maintains much of its original charm, including two sets of pocket doors, inlaid wood floors, four fireplaces, leaded-glass windows and a broad front porch. 

While the home is quintessential Victorian, Larry Dohman says that doesn't mean its rooms are small and dark. With 11-foot ceilings on the first floor, 10-foot ceilings on the second floor and tall windows, he says the house is graced with large rooms as well.

 "The rooms are very spacious, unlike most Victorians," he said. "It's a very bright and airy home."

Over their years raising their family in the home, the Dohmans tackled a lot of projects, from the kitchen to the bathrooms, along with many of the spaces in between. They say the home flows particularly well between indoors and out, and in the days of social distancing it provides plenty of room for distanced gatherings on the wide front porch and the back deck.

While the architect of their home is unknown -- it's possible Thatcher oversaw the design himself -- the Dohmans have enjoyed being in the midst of homes designed by Wright and other architectural giants such as William Drummond and Tallmadge and Watson. 

Larry also says the location can't be beat, citing the home's location within walking distance to Metra and Keystone Park's tennis courts and baseball fields.

"You're 10 miles from the Loop, but you feel like you're living in the country," Larry said. "There's no through traffic, and it's very quiet."

As their children are grown with children of their own, the Dohmans listed the house for sale with Jan Raspatello of @properties. 

"We're looking forward to seeing another family enjoy this house," said Denise, "hopefully for another 34 years."

 

'A house to grow up in'

Architect William Drummond designed 555 Edgewood Place, and the commute to work must have been easy as his own home was located at 559 Edgewood Place. 

The home at 555 Edgewood Place, built in 1925, is known as the Badenoch House, after its first owners. Nena Badenoch was an author who described designing the house in an article for Better Homes and Gardens Magazine titled, "A House to Grow Up In."

In the article, she lays out several tips for designing a house that fosters happiness for its inhabitants, both young and old. Chief among her ideas were flexible rooms that could accommodate younger children and then adapt to their needs as teens. 

High on her list of necessities? A bathroom solely for the children. She writes that "an extra bathroom for the children makes the hour just before breakfast and just after dinner a time of good temper and peace rather than one of rush and irritation." 

Parents today can likely relate.

Coldwell Banker realtor Sandi Graves, who is listing the house for the longtime owners, recounts another story in the home's design, saying that during one site visit between Drummond and Badenoch, Badenoch found a four-leaf clover. They decided to commission an art glass window of the clover to grace the front of the house.

"The house was built for a family with children," Graves said. "It was meant to be a fun, family house."  

All the attributes that Drummond designed for the Badenoch family make the home an ideal spot to raise a family almost 100 years later. Spacious rooms, that children's bathroom, a library and a basement rec room make the indoors live large, and the park-like lot allows for plenty of outdoor access.

After 47 years raising their family in the home, the current owners are looking to downsize and are asking $895,000 for the home. Graves says the couple loved seeing their daughters off to the River Forest schools when they were young and enjoyed the easy access to Thatcher Woods for frequent dog walks. 

"It's a lovely home that's ready for its next family," Graves said.

 

Contemporary take

While it may not be listed in a historic architecture guide, a third home on the market on Edgewood Place offers a more contemporary take on a family house. 

Built in 1997, the 3,900-square-foot home at 506 Edgewood Place boasts five bedrooms, a gourmet kitchen and an open floor plan. 

Listed for $1,239,999 by Robert Picciariello of Prello Realty, the home still might make the history books in River Forest in spite of the fact that it is the only newly built home on the block. 

The current owners purchased the home from Chicago Cubs All-Star pitcher Carlos Zambrano.

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