Today's Chicago Tribune has an article about how new construction McMansions are making a comeback in the Chicago area. Yesterday in my email I received two listings for sale in the area. One - a McMansion from 1920. The other - a McMansion from 2005. What were McMansions called before we had McDonald's?
I just find it interesting that the concept of building a much much bigger home than one's actual needs is not a new concept. Like many other things, nothing is new today; nearly everything has a precedent in history.
The other aspect that you see repeated in real estate through any decade in any community is that one home that is larger, designed more extravagantly than any others in the area. This is the home of the person who needed to tell the world through their home's design (or lack thereof) that they were successful.
Today you can tell the world that through your Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat accounts....for free....every five minutes if you want.
I have always thought it was just an interesting aspect of ego to use real estate and design as a method to display success. Logic, current pricing conditions, modesty - these don't enter into the decision to build. Then one day, often not that much later, there is a need to sell this trophy property. At this point do many of these homeowners get surprised that someone isn't snapping up their high-end property in two seconds? Do they seem surprised that the market for a $2.5 Million dollar home in a neighborhood of $850,000 homes is limited?
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.
Oh yeah. You know this home. You've been in this home. I owned this home.
In a completely unscientific study, I found this to be the most prevalent style home in west Wilmette. Reading the ad and how it gushes about the home's attributes all for $32,500 makes you really pause and appreciate something you can find nearly on every street around here. These truly are solid, well-built homes that have stood strong all these years. It is a style that is a part of Wilmette's fabric and one that has now given a couple of generation of suburbanites fond memories of their homes.
Did you grow up in one? Want to share your story? I'd love to hear it.
Subway tile is THE I see in the homes I tour each week. I do love the simplicity of the individual tiles themselves. I do love the contrasting off-set pattern that the grout makes. But...they are subway tiles. Subway stations in New York City do indeed have these tiles but... I wouldn't want them in my kitchen or bathroom.
I realize the decorators and homeowners spec'ing these tiles are not thinking like I am about this. I just am amused about how the tiles went from the grit of New York to the fine homes and restaurants that I see them in all the time.
What do you think?
This is what I think of when I think of subway tile - probably my home is the last place I would want to connect with this.
I have the fortunate opportunity to learn more about these west Wilmette gems from the architect who designed them. (Thank you FBook and this very small world we live in.) Mort Balaban, the architect, reached out to me via his daughter on Facebook. Here is what they said:
Cheryl Balaban Sarah Rothschild, i'm sitting with my dad right now..."Hollywood builders was headed by Jack Netchin, the builder, Morton S. Balaban was the architect of most of the homes in west wilmette. Besides them, there was Bill Kagan (Brookside dr.), and Hoffman Builders. Margolin was a lesser player, and Spear Gaston Builders built the colonial style townhomes along skokie blvd. (also designed by Mort Balaban).
The models that I designed for Hollywood were called the Hollywood Special, Skylark, Devon, Eldorado, and the flipped iterations were those names backwards, i.e. the Noved (lol). The "groovy slanted roof" model was the first venture into what I thought as contemporary in 1960; that was the Hollywood Special. All of the bilevels were set back 20 feet to accommodate the garage option.
As payment, i bought a lot at 2927 Greenleaf and built my own first home, a wildly contemporary home for the times that presaged my evolving architectural style. Although a misguided owner repainted the entire home (including the ironspot brick) lemon chiffon pie yellow, the home still stands proudly."
Over the years, dad and i have bought back some of these homes and reimagined the interiors and added additions. The current example of our renovation process is at 3001 Washington, where we've reconfigured the first floor and added a garage and master suite, reflecting his Frank Lloyd Wright prairie influence.
A few years back, the Wilmette Historical Society curated an exhibit on single family homes in the Village, highlighting Dad's contribution.
Let us know if there's more information you'd like to know. As dad says, "I am a fountain of information!"
They may not be the Taj Mahal or Fallingwater but I have a love for this model home found around west Wilmette.
You can find it all around this part of Wilmette. Some have attached garages, some do not. Did you grow up in one of these? Do you have any memories you want to share? I like how the builder basically took two boxes, one is two stories and one is one, and embellished them with the slanted roofs. The living room's ceiling reflects this angle and often opens up to the bedrooms upstairs.
What do you think?
>Caution, blogger writing this while hungry.<
Next time you want to try some amazing food, drive to:
La Unica Food Mart
1515 West Devon Avenue
Even though my blog mostly promotes the North Shore where I live and work, I was raised to believe that suburbanites need to go explore and enjoy the outstanding City of Chicago. Here is a great place to start.
I have headed here several times for delicious, well-priced meals. You can find regional dishes from Cuba, Columbia, Mexico & Peru. Did I mention how delicious everything is?
The restaurant is in the back of this grocery store. This past visit I stopped and took some photos of some awesome sodas they sold there. They carry Inca Cola which is a taste you have to try. What do you think? The grocery has all the departments you'd expect but you can also buy traditional cookware from these countries, cuts of meat you don't see at all places, tons of imported foods and piñatas that do not involve "Frozen" and other Disney characters. (Although now that my kids are teens, I have to admit being quietly amused at a birthday party years ago watching little kids take a bat to Barbie's head...but that's another blog entry.)
Sarah Rothschild, Realtor & Architectural History Nerd.