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3656 N Avers Ave, Chicago, IL 60618

A house in the Villa is for sale for the first time in 57 years

By Dennis Rodkin

Credit: Kurt Cichowski, Lighthaus Production

July 27, 2023 12:51 PM

In the mid-1960s, Kim Waldack’s parents bought a house in a North Side neighborhood whose blocks are lined with houses that were then about half a century old and thus fallen out of fashion.

In the decades since, the Craftsman- and Prairie-style homes in the Villa District have gained the patina of history, both individually and as a neighborhood. Waldack has been there for all of it, first moving into the house on Avers Avenue as a toddler with her parents, Tommy and Pat Edwards, and now as a retired empty nester along with her husband, Dave Waldack, involved with the preservation of the neighborhood’s charm.

“There’s a strong sense of community” in the Villa, Kim Waldack says. Her father is one of the Villa characters depicted in a mural, and the great-great-grandchildren of the architect of her family home dropped by this summer to take a look at it and others he designed in the district.

Built in 1913, the house has many design features of its era, including banded wood around the upper walls, a handsome brick fireplace flanked by glass-front bookcases and a pair of doorways, and a tiled fireplace mantel in the primary bedroom. Over the years, the family has updated climate systems, the bathrooms and kitchen.

Now ready to downsize, the Waldacks waited for one important day to pass before putting their home on the market. “My daughter stipulated, ‘Don’t sell the house until I have my college graduation party there,’ and that was in May,” Kim says.

Priced at just under $1.6 million, it’s a five-bedroom with roughly 4,300 interior square feet, now on the equivalent of 3.6 standard Chicago lots. Stephanie Cutter, the Coldwell Banker Realty agent representing the property, is putting the house on an agents-only network today and listing it publicly Aug. 14.


Credit: Kurt Cichowski, Lighthaus Production

At the heart of the home is this genteel composition of fireplace, bookcases and doorways. 

It’s picturesque, but it’s functional, too, creating good flow in the main spaces. Kim Waldack made good use of it as a kid, running in circles around the rooms as her parents counted the laps while sipping cocktails.

For anyone who’s ever had to strip layers of paint off original woodwork, it may seem like a miracle that the abundant wood trim in the main rooms of this house has not been painted in the home’s 110-year lifetime. 


Credit: Kurt Cichowski, Lighthaus Production

The pergola entrance and broad roof overhangs set the house in the Prairie-style architecture that Chicago architects were popularizing in the early 1900s.

This house’s architect, Clarence Hatzfeld, designed about 20 houses in the neighborhood, according to architectural historian Julia Bachrach, as well as at least a dozen fieldhouses for Chicago parks. 


Credit: Kurt Cichowski, Lighthaus Production

In 1966, Pat and Tommy Edwards paid about $35,000 for the house, Kim Waldack says. That’s the equivalent of about $339,000 today. The next year, they bought the vacant lot next door for an amount that Crain’s couldn’t determine.

The enlarged lot, now 99 feet by 113 feet, is where the Waldacks got married, followed years later by their son. It’s no wonder their daughter wanted a memorable event of her own there.


Credit: Kurt Cichowski, Lighthaus Production

This pretty stair rail is one of the many original details intact in the house. In the front door are art glass windows that depict a sumac, the same motif that’s in the glass bookcase doors on both sides of the main fireplace.


Credit: Kurt Cichowski, Lighthaus Production

While Kim Waldack’s parents didn’t cover most of the home’s vintage finishes, Dave Waldack mentions one change they made: covering the wood floors in red and black shag carpeting, typical of their generation’s floor-covering styles.

The good news, he says, is that the carpet “protected the nice wood floors underneath.” Now uncovered, they complement the beamed wood ceiling above.

The wood radiator covers are a modern addition


Credit: Kurt Cichowski, Lighthaus Production

A solarium off the dining room has its original hexagonal tile floor, which extends into the butler’s pantry and the kitchen.


Credit: Kurt Cichowski, Lighthaus Production

This wood-lined butler’s pantry offered a sort of litmus test when the Waldacks were preparing to update the kitchen.

When they brought contractors in to talk about how to do the kitchen, “any time one of them said we could tear the pantry down and open up the kitchen, we never hired that person,” Kim Waldack says.

They preferred to keep it not only for the historical integrity, she says, but because “we didn’t want to give up all that storage.”


Credit: Kurt Cichowski, Lighthaus Production

As a result, the new kitchen they designed has the same footprint as the original. It also has some original cabinets, although all of what’s seen here was built new in a style that suits the old. 


Credit: Kurt Cichowski, Lighthaus Production

The primary bedroom is a cozy place, in part because of the fireplace, an original.

But the coziness is also because with the big roof overhangs, it’s possible to keep the windows open on cool rainy days and nights for a cross breeze like in the old days.


Even so, the house has air conditioning.


Credit: Kurt Cichowski, Lighthaus Production

Building out a modern primary bathroom, the Waldacks chose materials that evoke the home’s early period.


Credit: Kurt Cichowski, Lighthaus Production

Off one bedroom is a balcony that faces west. “It’s a great place to sit and watch storms roll through,” Dave Waldack says.

It’s also where the couple stood for a time watching their son’s backyard wedding.

“It’s been great for us,” Kim Waldack says.


By Dennis Rodkin

Dennis Rodkin is a senior reporter covering residential real estate for Crain’s Chicago Business. He joined Crain’s in 2014 and has been covering real estate in Chicago since 1991.

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