11,000 Sq Ft East Lake View Mansion For $2.3 MM With Cave: 448 W Barry

Maybe the third time will be the charm but the 11,403 square foot American Foursquare mansion at 448 W Barry is back on the market, with yet another price reduction. Sitting on a 72 x 176 lot in a prime location, that seems like an awful lot of house and land for the money. Of course there’s a catch, right? The property is landmarked so the house can’t be torn down and it needs “extensive work”.
Originally built in 1905 for silk merchant Daniel O. Hill, it was designed by Frederick W. Perkins (Maybe I should start using my middle initial which is much more dignified) who was a well known, successful architect in Chicago. Dan lived there until around 1952 when the home was bought by the Serbian American Museum to be used as a Serbian American Museum, complete with a Nikola Tesla exhibit.
In case you don’t know Nikola Tesla was a Serbian American genius with numerous inventions in the field of electric power generation and distribution. Thomas Edison tried to discredit Tesla’s alternating current technology by using it to fry an elephant, among other animals. Well, Thomas Edison used Tesla’s inventions to build the General Electric company and became fabulously wealthy while Tesla died broke, although he did end up with a car named after him.
Starting in July 2016 the museum folks tried to sell the building so that they could move to a better building, more conveniently located, and with more parking. They initially listed it for $3.85 MM and had a contract that year that apparently fell apart. They put it back on the market in January 2017 at the same price and apparently had a full price offer based upon a plan to demolish the building and develop the land. However, the city of Chicago decided to protect the property with landmark status and the deal fell through.
Eventually the museum people lowered the price to $3.35 MM in April of last year and actually got another contract. However, that deal also fell apart. I’m guessing the buyers figured out that it was more work than they bargained for. So now they just brought it back with a list price of $2.3 MM. I have not seen the property so I have no idea what kind of structural issues may exist but with that much square footage on that much land I could see some really creative type gutting the entire building and creating a really cool home.
The house has 9 bedrooms, 2 full bathrooms, 7 half bathrooms, 6 fireplaces, a 4 car garage and exterior parking for 4 more cars. Here is an excerpt from the description.

Three floors with exquisite woodwork throughout, 12″ ceilings, preserved quality and charm from the turn of the century. HUGE lot size. Everything in this home is mostly original except for a third story ballroom being converted to a theater and cave themed basement. The square footage includes the basement. Home needs extensive work. Sold AS-IS!

Yeah, you read that right. Assuming the buyer wants a true man-cave they won’t need to refinish the basement because it’s already a cave. I shit you not. See the photo below.

448 W Barry Lake View cave basement
The basement at 448 W Barry has been finished with a Flintstones motif

Now, you might wonder why the Serbian American Museum would turn the basement into a cave but the answer is obvious…as an “underground performance venue. Literally modeled after a cave in design, this venue has the mystical feel of a fantasy land located far beyond its actual location.” I wish I could have been at the meeting where they decided this. See photo below.
Musical performance in the cave
Musicians performing in the cave at 448 W Barry in Lake View, Chicago

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Gary Lucido is the President of Lucid Realty, the Chicago area’s full service real estate brokerage that offers home buyer rebates and discount commissions. If you want to keep up to date on the Chicago real estate market or get an insider’s view of the seamy underbelly of the real estate industry you can Subscribe to Getting Real by Email using the form below. Please be sure to verify your email address when you receive the verification notice.

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