Wicker Park house wins Landmark Award

1555 N Hoyne Ave

A restored limestone house at 1555 N Hoyne Ave in Wicker Park (.pdf) is among the winners of the Chicago Landmark Awards for Preservation Excellence, along with a Pullman rowhouse we mentioned recently.

The Wicker Park house had fallen into serious disrepair, according to Brian Culliton, one of the project’s backers. The 35-year-old landscape architect bought the property in 2003 with two business partners, Michael Duggan and Stu Heinrichs.

Their first idea was to rehab the building’s apartments. “Then the rental market went to hell,” Culliton says. The next plan was to convert it to condos, but they scrapped that, too, deciding that the best use for the property was one five-bedroom, 5,600-square-foot single-family home.

Since the house is in the Wicker Park Historic District, they were required to follow the Commission on Chicago Landmarks’ guidelines for the restoration. Their improvements included cleaning the stone on the front and sides of the building, so dirty it was black in places, and re-framing the historic coach house in the rear, which was covered in grimy tar paper.

The inside, which had been broken up into apartments, was gutted down to the brick. Space Architects & Planners designed the restored interiors, aiming for as much historical accuracy as possible, Culliton says.

It was a big job, especially since Culliton was also working full time with his firm, Culliton Quinn Landscape Architecture Workshop. “Me and my business partners call it four years of education – going to college for four years,” he says, bracing himself against the granite countertops in the white-and-stainless-steel kitchen. His wife, Amy Pilewski, laughs in agreement.

The house is stocked with high-end features, including crown moldings, carved walnut banisters, three working fireplaces and a basement paneled in knotty alder. The coach house has a white clapboard exterior and reclaimed antique brick pavers on the ground floor.

The question now is what to do with this magnum opus. The eventual goal is to sell it (they’ll likely list it between $2.7 and $2.8 million, he says). But that may not happen right away. “We’re not really into selling it in a down market,” Culliton says. “We’d like some return on our investment.” In the meantime, he’s contemplating moving in for a year or so. “It’s a labor of love. Partly you just want to enjoy it for a while,” he says.

We’ll post a video tour of 1555 N Hoyne Ave soon.

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