By Judith Nemes | January 8, 2015 | Home & Real Estate
A Chicago auto baron shares his drive to restore his historic Division Street greystone to its original glory.
Bob Loquercio’s finished row house mixes modern accents with state-of-the-art restoration and was inspired by the urban elegance of late-1800s Gold Coast homes.
Steps from Lake Michigan, among a cluster of distinguished landmark row houses on East Division Street, one home jumps out from this Gold Coast block’s predominantly redbrick structures. Done in pristine cream-colored brick and limestone, its exterior is punctuated by a tall glass-paneled front entrance with decorative iron grillwork on the door and an arched window above it—both re-creations meant to summon the home’s glory days at the turn of the last century.
“I fell in love with the outside of the home and the way it stood out from the rest of the block,” says owner and local auto dealer Bob Loquercio of Bob Loquercio Auto Group. “The grand entrance always caught my eye, and I knew the last owners [Morton G. Neumann’s family] had stored one of the world’s largest private Picasso collections there at one time.”
From the street, one can see the 13-foot ceiling, ornate triple-crown moldings, and wall paneling that rings the front room of the Georgian-style row house. It exudes glamour and beckons much as it did more than 100 years ago, when Chicago society was celebrated in this same home.
The guest bedroom was designed to feel warm and luxurious.
Built circa 1906 and measuring an expansive 8,000 square feet, the row house was designed by famed architect Jarvis Hunt as a gift to his newly engaged younger sister. (Hunt gained renown for grand buildings like Kansas City’s Union Station and the clubhouse for the prestigious National Golf Links of America in Southampton, New York, of which he was a founding member.) The once-glamorous East Division Street home had been unoccupied for years and lay in disrepair until Loquercio began his self-described “labor of love” in 2006, with the goal of restoring the residence to its early-20th-century grandeur— and boosting it into the 21st century as well.
Loquercio commissioned Patrick Plunkett of Patrick Plunkett Architectural Design Ltd. in Hinsdale (630-789-8100) to design the home renovation. Painstaking attention was given to re-creating the original splendor of the front room, entryway, and stairway, recalls Plunkett. “You could feel what the house was built for when you walked in, and what [Hunt] was going for,” he explains. “The house was about urban elegance reminiscent of the late-1800s-era Gold Coast homes.” Plunkett also repurposed original elements of the home where possible, including leaded-glass doors with inlaid stained glass that were restored and installed in the kitchen. The architect then transformed the upper floors and kitchen area to incorporate state-of-the-art modern furnishings. The overall interior design was supervised by Arlyn Goodman of W.W. Design (312-644-0278).
The results are stunning—particularly the first floor’s expansive front room (a combined living room and formal dining area), which boasts intricate triplecrown moldings, including piano-key details that were a Jarvis Hunt hallmark. Picture-frame moldings adorn the walls, and elaborate pilasters jut out in various spots. These dramatic features are softened by muted wall colors, clean-lined Holly Hunt furniture, and a silk rug from Oscar Isberian. A Sergio Bustamante headless torso sculpture from Mexico accents one side of the fireplace, and a bronze sculpture bought on the Italian Amalfi Coast sits in the dining area. A Donghia chandelier hangs from the 13-foot ceiling. On the second floor, the guest bedroom designed by Loquercio’s fiancée, Veronica Zepeda, who juggles a modeling career with interior design work, feels sensuous and eclectic. “I wanted our guests to have a six-star experience,” she insists. The third-floor master suite bedroom invites Zen-like calm, while the back-room coffee bar and study for Loquercio has an energetic, masculine sensibility.
Painstaking attention was given to re-creating the original splendor of the front room, entry, and stairway.
More recently, the couple added on 2,000 square feet of rooftop space. The entire home renovation set Loquercio back about $1.7 million; he spent an additional $400,000-plus for the rooftop addition, which was designed by architect Bill Kokalias of Axios Architects & Consultants Ltd. (312-750-1333).
The home renovation process was anything but smooth—setbacks included a shutdown by city inspectors for asbestos violations during demolition; Loquercio’s selling the home to a developer one year into the project, then buying it back from a bank four years later; waiting for approvals from the Commission on Chicago Landmarks; and a 2012 rooftop flood that forced the pair out. But the couple settled in permanently last year and assert the wait for the home and its four bedrooms, eight bathrooms, four fireplaces, gym, and 1,000-bottle wine cellar was worth the delays and cost overruns. “Our budget was considerably less at the outset,” admits Loquercio, “but we were inspired by this project, and we made it a priority in our lives to make it as perfect as we could.”
photography by neil burger