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Landmarked 1885 home of first Chicago Art Institute director lists for $785K

Originally built for Art Institute director William M. R. French, this restored home is big on historic charm

Known locally as the "French House," this colorful five-bedroom home was constructed in Beverly in 1885 for William M. R. French. A landscape architect and civil engineer by trade, French turned his attention to the world of fine art after the Great Chicago Fire destroyed his landscaping business in 1871. In the years that followed, the New Hampshire-born man served as Secretary for the Chicago Academy of Design. When the academy eventually reorganized itself into the Chicago Art Institute in 1882, French became the famed institution’s very first director.

While historical features such as the home’s frieze work, lead windows, six fireplaces, and ornately carved mantels have been thoughtfully preserved or restored, the home’s four bathrooms, laundry room, and cherry-lined kitchen have been updated from their original state. Situated on a large, well-landscaped lot, the French house also comes with a detached two car garage, storage shed, and patio ideal for entertaining al fresco. At nearly 3,000 square feet, this historic home offers decent value at its current ask of $785,000.