Vintage Character Abounds in this Bronzeville Mansion: 2801 S. Prairie

This 8-bedroom mansion at 2801 S. Prairie in Bronzeville was built in 1885 when this part of the city was the home of Chicago’s wealthiest citizens.

It now sits just north of the historic landmarked “Gap” district which runs from 3100 to 3500 South Prairie.

At 6,000 square feet, the house has amazing woodwork and what looks to be original stained glass windows. Click on the link to see the pictures of the magnificent staircase.

It also has 6 fireplaces.

It has no central air but there is room on the side drive for 4 cars. 

There are no pictures of the bathrooms or the kitchen and there is no further written listing whatsoever on the public real estate sites that describes the property.

Will someone save this house and restore it to its former grandeur?

Frederic Scovell at Keller Williams has the listing. See the pictures here.

2801 S. Prairie: 8 bedrooms, 5 baths, 23 total rooms, 6000 square feet

  • I couldn’t find a prior sales price
  • Currently listed for $850,000
  • Taxes of $3407
  • No Central Air
  • Parking for at least 4 cars
  • 6 fireplaces

45 Responses to “Vintage Character Abounds in this Bronzeville Mansion: 2801 S. Prairie”

  1. Beautiful place.

    This will be easy to restore, relatively speaking. The important thing is that it is intact and hasn’t been compromised – just needs the floors refinished and perhaps old dead plaster replaced, plus new mechanicals like wiring and plumbing.

    It will need a new kitchen and baths, but maybe you could keep some great old bath fixtures.

    Hope someone buys this who respects it and doesn’t gut it and clean-wall it to death and turn it into some pipe-rail exposed-brick nightmare wonderland.

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  2. Totally awesome house.

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  3. LOL right by Dunbar high School (drive by shooting just last year!)… yeah um, its really a shame such a beautiful house (that still needs a ton of work) is in such a shitty neighborhood with no prospects of improvement.

    someone dedicated to the neighborhood might scoop this “deal” up, but otherwise, good freaking luck!

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  4. And this place is surrounded by vacant lots, does the price include all those empty lots?

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  5. “LOL right by Dunbar high School (drive by shooting just last year!)”

    I can’t even be in full Bucktown defense mode because 2 girls just got beaten by a baseball bat at 1700 N. Damen, driveby shooting on Saturday night at 2300 Armitage (I was in the bar across the street at the time), and another 2 shot Sunday morning at 2900 Armitage (only some are so bold as to call this “West Bucktown”). Sad, but I wouldn’t be too concerned about a driveby a year ago. Well, no more concerned than I am about all the other senseless crime in all neighborhoods.

    Not my thing at all (other than the size of this place!), but very pretty.

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  6. “I can’t even be in full Bucktown defense mode because 2 girls just got beaten by a baseball bat at 1700 N. Damen”

    Somehow in my in-laws’ eyes, that got pinned on logan square, where my wife and I live (the trib’s habit of calling everthing in humboldt park logan does not help on that front either). I didn’t emphasize the distinction since we are also looking at houses in bucktown.

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  7. Ok well besides a driveby shooting that took place on school grounds a BLOCK from this house, which is shielded by nothing but vacant lots, I think that is a major detractor from anyone with money buying this place unless they can figure out a way to buy all those vacant lots and install a razorwire brick fence around this house…

    Seriously awesome house in a horrid location, just horrid!

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  8. @DZ

    I get the same thing from my wife’ grandma. We’re in the NE enf of Logan. But everytime something happens in either Humbolt or the far west end of logan the old lady starts freaking out.

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  9. “Seriously awesome house in a horrid location, just horrid!”

    Is any place safe anymore, a north park student got beat with a pipe and robbed in Albany park, and the girl was just walking to the train @ 3:30 in the afternoon.

    I would feel safer here in this mansion than i would in uptown even in july.

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  10. Yes groove there are many many safe places in the city, Albany Park and Bronzeville are not on that list and especially not Uptown

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  11. “This will be easy to restore, relatively speaking. The important thing is that it is intact and hasn’t been compromised – just needs the floors refinished and perhaps old dead plaster replaced, plus new mechanicals like wiring and plumbing.”

    I like this place too . . . but this is silly. Ever restored on old house? Doing “small” things like new wiring and plumbing will cost a fortune. Especially if you want to save all that charm. I’m reminded of the best movie that Shelly Long ever made. Whatever happened to Shelly Long anyway?

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  12. Sorry . . . it’s ShellEy Long. And the question should be: what movie is (a) the best movie Shelley Long ever made and also (b) the worst movie Tom Hanks ever made?

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  13. “And the question should be: what movie is (a) the best movie Shelley Long ever made and also (b) the worst movie Tom Hanks ever made?”

    Money Pit, of course.

    “Whatever happened to Shelly Long anyway?”

    Same thing that would have happened to David Caruso, were it not for the unaccountable fascination with CSI:RandomCity.

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  14. “I like this place too . . . but this is silly. Ever restored on old house? Doing “small” things like new wiring and plumbing will cost a fortune. Especially if you want to save all that charm”

    There are times (most) that its easier and way cheaper to gut. old wiring isnt that bad or that expensive to upgrade (still isnt cheap either). the Plumbing and adding C/A will be the costly of them. but the true high cost will be the replication of the missing vintage pieces to make it look like it wasnt missing (i.e. missing or broke spindles need to be recreated and so on)

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  15. “Yes groove there are many many safe places in the city, Albany Park and Bronzeville are not on that list and especially not Uptown”

    so let me rephrase…. the way bucktown is going i would feel safer here by dunbar and the CPD than crazy bucktown

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  16. “so let me rephrase…. the way bucktown is going i would feel safer here by dunbar and the CPD than crazy bucktown”

    Oh Groove – I knew there would be one person to revel in the recent misfortunes of Bucktown. But let’s not get carried away. Go watch Troop Beverly Hills.

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  17. alanon, note that I said this will be RELATIVELY easy to restore. Obviously it is only for people who love to restore houses. When I was younger, I hankered to get an old mansion in a neglected nabe and restore it, by my cousin’s experience with a house in St. Louis’ Lafayette Park neighborhood cured me of the urge.

    He bought an old and historic house in St. Louis built in 1871, designed by Thomas Barnett. My cousin bought the place in 1971, and it was so much worse off than this, that he’d have been grateful to have this place. Even though Bryan, the restoration architect for the old courthouse had owned the place previously and replaced all the mechanical elements, the house still needed to be just about rebuilt. It had been seriously damaged and degraded,having been used many years as a flophouse that housed as many as 40 people at once, and my cousin had to go to the city archives to get photos of all the rooms as they looked originally, to do the job. Fires had been set in the old bathtub. Woodwork had been stripped out to provide firewood. Casts had to be made of remaining fragments of ornate plasterwork, and new plaster done with those casts. Most of the woodwork had to be duplicated and replaced by expensive restoration carpenters.

    They never did get it all done, even though it was only a 10 room house. Just doing the first floor rooms so depleted them that they couldn’t even get the kitchen rene’d or add another bath. Utterly exhausted both physically and financially after 5 years, they sold the place to someone wealthier and moved into a smaller historic home in better condition.

    So you know what I mean when I say easy, at least for someone who has done restorations and knows what he’s doing, and has the money to do them. For me, and likely you, it would be undoable. I’d die before I got everything done on this place. But it’s a cakewalk compared to other old mansions I’ve seen.

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  18. “Oh Groove – I knew there would be one person to revel in the recent misfortunes of Bucktown. But let’s not get carried away”

    Hey at least you hoods crime makes major headlines and action is taken, we get less press than south side shootings.

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  19. How much would it cost to install AC in this house? (lol)

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  20. Shelly Long showed up on Modern Family this year.

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  21. Sidelined Buyer on May 3rd, 2010 at 3:55 pm

    Wow! This place is amazing. Is the neighborhood really unlivable?

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  22. just of the top of my head I would start the restoration budget at 750,000 – 1,000,000
    I would definitely do a restoration not a rehab.
    if someone wanted to rehab that place (strip everything and convert to new) probably start at 500,000-750,000

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  23. There’s $200,000+ to be spent on new kitchen and bathrooms for sure, but what they show of the house looks to be in decent condition. Thank god nobody ever had the bright idea to paint over all that woodwork. The neighborhood is such a dealbreaker, though. It’s never ever going to gentrify down there, ever. Even at half this price I can’t imagine someone buying it.

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  24. For those concerned about the area: This property is a half a block to the north of Mercy Hospital and 1 lot to the south of the Chicago Police Department on Prairie Ave. It is in the South Commons Development area (condos) and just a few blocks to the North of IIT Campus.

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  25. I meant south of Mercy Hospital

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  26. and north of the Chicago Police Station

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  27. This neighborhood will gentrify when suburbanites start flooding the city in response to ever-increasing fuel prices over the next 5 years, and we will have another long spate of frantic building and rehabbing.

    Most of the influx will not be able to afford places like this, but they’ll provide the middle-class and upper-middle class support that large area needs in order to attract the people who can afford places like this.

    Look at the areas that have gentrified in this city since 1980. Wicker Park and Bucktown are two neighborhoods you’d have said didn’t have a chance in 1980. Wicker Park was a really mangy, dangerous slum with much less going for it in the way of architecture than the area featured here. I didn’t give the place any real chances. You also wouldn’t have thought the south Loop would ever be what it is now- when I came to this city, it was a “skid row” area.

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  28. Can’t remember if I saw this place in a Murphy’s Oil Soap commercial or in Eyes Wide Shut?

    Laura — how insightful and Orwellian of you! Ever increasing fuel prices — that is cutting edge, incisive thinking indeed.

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  29. If you just look at housing stock, there are so many absolutely amazing places in Bville (see 07241830, or, the grandaddy, 07424788, if you want examples of what else like this is for sale right now. . . in addition, of course, to the rowhouse Sabrina covered recently).

    As hard as realtors were pushing the area a few years back, sales seem to have died here since ’08. I see only a couple sales north of $500k in the hood since then.

    But believe it or not in ’08 someone actually paid over $1.1m for a place here. . . on MLK, so of 35th, no less.

    And, Laura, if I’m going to believe that an oil crisis will drive people to urban living, I’m definitely going to bank on communities with L access first (although if things go well, someday a doc or director at Mercy will look at this place, the lots around it, buy all of the above, and truly live like a king/queen. . . seriously, if you could walk to work from this place????).

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  30. Back in the 70s, Bronzeville was supposedly on the cusp of gentrification; well it’s 30 years later, and the gentrification limited. David Hovey’s development just east of IIT and some rowhouse renovations of varying degrees of quality occurred, but the broken-up character of neighborhood was never mended.

    North of 31st Street is a mixed-bag of institutional users, three massive 60s-era redevelopment projects, and some old neighborhood buildings. It’s not technically within Bronzeville, more like “institutionville”. Olympic Village would certainly have changed its character, but the project no longer exists.

    I don’t expect any further “gentrification” to occur here in Chicago. Artist-types will continue to seek out cheap studio space housing, but their choices will increase as rents and prices continue to weaken. There’s plenty of existing Chicago housing stock to meet criteria of yuppie purchasers. Development dollars for market-rate housing development has disappeared along with market-rate housing development market itself. Construction financing is very difficult.

    This house probably survived because it had an institutional owner-occupant. I note that property now has a tax-bill and pool table, but that’s probably a relatively recent change. The house would make a good “house museum” to currate robber-baron lifestyle of the late 1890s, or a social club, but not a great choice for single-family house. Heating bill is probably four figures for six months of year. It’s not a good location for a Bed and Breakfast. Even in Lincoln Park or Gold Coast it would be a hard sell in a renovated condition – look at the number of high-end $2 million+ SF homes for sale now.

    It’s impressive that some many architectural elements are still present here. But renovating an “intact” old mansion like this is nonetheless very very expensive. Rewiring “tube and nob” electrical system requires extensive plaster and paneling wall openings, new wiring distribution, new incoming service, and then wall repairs everywhere. House likely requires all new plumbing pipe risers, stacks, and distribution piping, which entails more holes. These are expenses incurred before even contemplating new kitchen and multiple new baths. Add new heating system, air-conditioning (a staple requirement), and general repairs such as roof, floors, foundation, tuckpointing, etc. No wonder that large historic restorations of mansions usually runs into the millions of dollars. And the neighborhood doesn’t even justify the current asking price. It’s a handsome white elephant.

    Perhaps price goes done to $500,000 (more realistic) and a single guy with a large social life buys it, lives in it with little restoration, and hosts a number of big parties.

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  31. “Perhaps price goes done to $500,000 (more realistic) and a single guy with a large social life buys it, lives in it with little restoration, and hosts a number of big parties.”

    I think this is probably the best case scenario. I only hope that Tyler Durden invites me for a soiree or two.

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  32. wow Architect that 4030 S. king drive house is insane

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  33. “Look at the areas that have gentrified in this city since 1980. Wicker Park and Bucktown are two neighborhoods you’d have said didn’t have a chance in 1980. Wicker Park was a really mangy, dangerous slum with much less going for it in the way of architecture than the area featured here. I didn’t give the place any real chances. You also wouldn’t have thought the south Loop would ever be what it is now- when I came to this city, it was a “skid row” area.”

    I don’t think this is true with respect to Wicker Park. I was in college then and even then Wicker Park was a cool place to go drinking. Not for the future stroller / frat dad types that are there now, but for artists and artists wannabes (me at the time). It was a lot rougher than it is now, but still a destination for the kinds of people that eventually sell out and make enough money to overpay for a single family home in a “cool” neighborhood (me now). Bronzeville isn’t even close in that respect. I don’t agree with Architect that gentrification is done in the city of Chicago. Seems like an unnecessarily broad statement. But I’m very doubtful that Bronzeville will see gentrification any time soon. At least as most people define it. There just isn’t the base. That base may be forming in Pilsen, but I wouldn’t put my money there either. Maybe Uptown, eventually, if the city can ever get the crime under control.

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  34. “wow Architect that 4030 S. king drive house is insane”

    i always talk about the places over here and refernce to them on CC also.
    there are many many grey stones with original features all over this area, most in disrepair or turned into three flat rentals next to empty lots. some in better shape than others, some scooped up by rehabbers hoping the turn would happen here, others by slum lords that still havent changed a thing in them or updated the 70’s or 80’s and probably have the black “in out” cloth electrical wiring.

    I have always since i was a kid wished this stretch from hyde park to the loop would take off and these wonderful old vintage mansions would be saved buy yuppies.
    I really wonder if a El line through here to HP would have helped that happen?

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  35. You know, I am really tired of you guys dissing this neighborhood and saying its not gentrified. If by gentrified you mean flooded by white professionals then the answer is “No, its not gentrified.” But there is a large black professional community that lives here and I grew up in this neighborhood, just a few blocks down from here. While I would agree that its not a hip and happening place for a young single person, I would gladly move back here to raise a family.

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  36. “I really wonder if a El line through here to HP would have helped that happen?”

    What, the Green line isn’t close enough? Sure, there isn’t a convenient stop to this place, but the line is 3 blocks away (and the red is only 2 more blocks), and there is a metra stop about 4 blocks the other way.

    Sure, it would be better if the Green actually ran into HP, or even along 61st instead of 63d, but you can’t seriously blame B’ville’s non-gentrification on lack of el access.

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  37. “but you can’t seriously blame B’ville’s non-gentrification on lack of el access”

    no just throwing a thought out there, as i really dont know how/why it didnt get better?
    I would like to know if someone knows the truth why a “galewood Yards” project can get corrupt backing from Gutierrez which is a shytty area for a development, and bronzeville having cheap empty lots and great greystone rehab potential being on the lake and very close to the loop didnt happen?

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  38. westloopelo on May 4th, 2010 at 9:43 am

    Laura,
    I am glad you retracted your statement and others piped in regarding the high, HIGH prices of redoing a place such as this.
    Sure it is in relatively good condition…to the untrained eye…but 99% of the time under all those glorious original to the period features we all love, there are a ton of problems that usually will double the budget.
    $200k for only bath and kitchen renovations? A tad off depending on the quality of fixtures and depth you would care to go to make this an acceptable mansion.
    Regardless, this area will never see such gentrification as has been seen in other areas of Chicago. Even with the presence of the Games, it probably would have been snapped up, demoed and replaced with new buildings. In speaking to MANY gentrification/preservationists types during my stay in Chicago, the possibility of this ever happening, for whatever reason, are slim to none. There was no interest from local renovators who still had the resources, and only negative words to an outsider who would even think of doing anything in this area. Time and time again I was strongly advised to stay above 14th St with any thoughts of renovating houses. And I am glad I listened to those with knowledge of the city.
    Imagine buying then sinking the purchase amount + into restoring it to the original condition…only to face the rest of the area being turned into commercial areas….or worse yet, having a beautiful place in an area where nothing positive would ever occur and would possible continue to deteriorate.

    From an experienced renovator, a HUGE PASS.

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  39. westloopelo on May 4th, 2010 at 9:50 am

    Studying the pics one more time, it is in need of some SERIOUS work. It would not be worth the effort and HUGE expense to do any type of renovations to it. Houses of this period are always huge money pits and simply are not worth it.
    The only thing that would make sense would be the possibility of having the price cut in half and the preservationist buyers going through and painstakingly removing all of the features, transporting them to a similar home in another area and utilizing them in that renovation.
    I know we have done this in a number of Victorian renovations and there is….was a huge market for this a number of years ago. But this was viable only if the house was ‘stolen’ by a low low price. Otherwise it was just not worth it.
    Looking at it closely, I know of a beautiful, in a prime location home in Brooklyn that would love to get ahold of these fixtures, woodwork and glass and use them in their renovation.

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  40. all i see is an outrageous heating bill.

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  41. This is the Wood-Maxey-Boyd house, a Chicago landmark. The Reader had an article about this place a few years ago: http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/tests-of-time/Content?oid=913012

    Dr Maxey-Boyd died last year. The house’s period furniture was sold at auction recently.

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  42. southside Dave on May 4th, 2010 at 9:39 pm

    Thanks for the article Jay. We did a tour with http://forgottenchicago.com/ two years ago and went by and talked about this place. I remember seeing some homeless camped out in the yard and thought ” there goes the resale value ” . It’s a shame that the goddaughter strip it and is selling it. I thought this was only to be sold to a non-profit or museum.

    One restoration in the neighborhood that worked – http://www.wheelermansion.com/ – just never ask how much work it was, as it will put you out the restoration mode forever.

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  43. Great article,I would of loved to see pictures with the period furniture in the house.
    With the house being landmarked,if there is any repair work to be done on the stone,you can add a quite a bit more for the renovations.
    The effort and cost the developers had to endure redoing the Marshall Field Mansion was incredible.

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  44. The price was reduced from $850,000 to $599,000!!!!

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  45. Sold for $450k. All cash.

    http://chicago.curbed.com/archives/2011/06/13/landmark-woodmaxeyboyd-house-in-douglas-sells-for-450k.php

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