• Residential Real Estate
  • A woman built this bungalow—in 1916

    The Portage Park house is one of several built in the neighborhood by Mary E. Willis during the 1910s and 1920s.

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    79彩票注册网址A Portage Park bungalow that came on the market today was built by a female homebuilder, a rarity in Chicago in 1916 (and even now, for that matter).

    The four-bedroom bungalow on Laramie Avenue “is very striking when you walk in,” said Alex Lucas, who bought the house in 2017 from a family who’d owned the home for more than half a century.
     
    Lucas is asking $339,900 for the bungalow, which is represented by Deb Hess of Compass. The main rooms have broad arched doorway openings trimmed in wood and capped with small carvings, and a brick fireplace amid a wall of wood trim and bookcases is a notch above the norm in Chicago’s beloved home type. Lucas said she believes most or all of it is original, while the extensive wood cabinetry and trim in the kitchen and other rooms was added later.
     

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    The original building permit identifies the builder as Mary E. Willis, Lucas said. According to archived copies of the Economist and American Contractor, Mary Willis built at least half a dozen bungalows on the nearby blocks of Windsor, Wilson and Leclaire avenues between 1915 and 1921.

    That’s a drop in the bucket of during their heyday,  between 1910 and 1930, but it’s quite rare to find a woman building homes in that era. The historical articles make no mention of a male who might have worked with her, such as a husband or brother.
     
    Lucas, an attorney, said she and her spouse, whom she declined to name, are expecting a child and bought a larger home, also historical, in another neighborhood.

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