The McCormick Row House District: Lincoln Park's Secret Enclave

You’ve probably driven right past the McCormick Row House District in Lincoln Park numerous times and never even realized that it was there. That’s because it is extremely well hidden, mostly within the confines of the DePaul campus, although one edge borders on Fullerton. As you can see in the satellite image below the district lies just a bit west of Halsted, bordered on the east by Chalmers St. and on the south by Belden. Fremont constitutes the majority of the western border. There are a total of 56 historic landmark homes in the district.
McCormick row house district
The reason you might never know this community exists is because you don’t realize that the row of homes on Fullerton and Belden are part of the same development. Then there are the two rows of homes between Fullerton and Belden which surround a park which the community refers to as “The Green”. The photo below shows the homes on the north side of the park. But the only way to get to this inner sanctum is to drive through a set of gates that you would swear is the entrance to a Depaul parking lot. In fact, there used to be a parking lot there but DePaul is now in the process of building their new music school there.
Chalmers Place row homes
The homes do not have garages but people park on the street (restricted to residents and guests) right outside their front door. Interestingly, given the community’s location within DePaul, the University actually provides snow removal on Chalmers Place street and sidewalks, which I’m sure is better than having the city of Chicago do it.
The Seminary Townhouse Association has many activities and traditions for adults and children which foster a close community and neighborly spirit, including annual neighborhood parades, picnics, and even talent shows. Association dues, which are under $200/ month include water, common insurance, two private parking spaces on Chalmers Place, grounds maintenance for the central park, and plantings in the “bathtub”, a flower filled circular area at the entrance.
These homes don’t sell very often – maybe one or two of the 56 every year. Currently there are two on the market:

  • 841 W Chalmers Pl is a 5400 sq ft end home listed at $1.925 MM with 6 bedrooms, 3 full baths, and 2 half baths
  • 832 W Belden is also a 6000 sq ft end home, gut rehabbed and listed at $3.2 MM with 6 bedrooms, and 4 1/2 baths. Rumor has it that the seller actually has $3.6 MM into the property at this point.


History Of The McCormick Row House District

The McCormick Theological Seminary, named after Cyrus McCormick who invented the mechanical reaper, was located on the campus from 1863 – 1975. They were not happy with the return they were getting on their endowment’s investments so they built the homes from 1884 – 1892 to generate rental income. The homes were designed by Colton and Sons architects in the Queen Anne style.
In 1975 the seminary moved to Hyde Park and the residents of the row homes at that time formed the Seminary Townhouse Association to buy the homes and then resell them to individuals. The association paid $3 MM in total for all 56 homes. About half of the homes were ultimately bought by the residents and the other half were sold through a lottery (so I guess they were underpriced). The entire area was declared an historic landmark on May 4, 1977.
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Gary Lucido is the President of Lucid Realty, the Chicago area’s full service discount real estate brokerage. If you want to keep up to date on the Chicago real estate market, get an insider’s view of the seamy underbelly of the real estate industry, or you just think he’s the next Kurt Vonnegut 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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