Edward Dart is considered one of Chicago’s most important modern post-war architects. He was made a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects at the age of 44 before dying unexpectedly in 1975 at age 53. Between 1949 to 1968 Dart designed just 52 custom homes — including this handsome example located 350 Sunrise Circle in suburban Glencoe. After three memorable decades in the architecturally significant home, current homeowners Leo and Betty Melamed are ready to downsize.
From the street, the modern all-brick Dart design looks more institutional than residential. "The neighborhood correctly called it the fortress," says Leo Melamed, chairman emeritus of CME Group. "It’s very enclosed from the front. These narrow windows are like turrets. But the house is arranged as a semi-circle, and from the back it’s totally open, totally different. This is very conducive of Edward Dart’s style."
True to Melamed's word, the rear of the home features large glass windows that look onto a generous rear yard with an in-ground pool that was added by the family after they moved into the seven-bedroom home in January of 1976.
Inside the unique property, the first thing that catches the eye is the enormity of two-level front foyer that is open to to the living room and dining room. Lined with brick and walnut accents, the main floor lets in light from the backyard and as well as the second level above.
"When it comes to entertaining, you really can’t do better than this arrangement. There are fold-away doors to shut off the dining room off, but in 30 years we’ve never found a reason to do it," say the Melameds, who routinely hosts large events like political fundraisers out of their home.
Located around the corner from the large central living space is the recently renovated kitchen and an attached breakfast area and family room. Opposite the kitchen on the other side of the entrance is the library — a favorite among visitors, according to the homeowners. The cozy space features a wet bar and fireplace (but no TV) and oozing with genuine mid-century coolness.
A split-level servant’s wing accessing the home’s attached three-car garage contains a pair of bedrooms and a separate bathroom. The area would work well as maid/nanny quarters or guest rooms. From there the tour proceeds down to the finished basement.
Continuing the theme of entertainment, basement features a "kid bar" that includes a built-in soda fountain and ping pong area that connects to a dedicated billiards room. "The kids spent many hours down here becoming Paul Newman," laughed Melamed. "I think we've got him somewhere in here too," he says gesturing to the wall of vintage Hollywood posters, locating an image from The Hustler.
The lower level features an incredible amount storage across several large closets, a laundry room, furnace room, and workshop. The basement also includes a morbid reminder of the home’s 1960’s vintage in the form of a bomb shelter. "The concrete here is four feet thick and reinforced. These shelves were designed to hold many month's worth of provisions in case of an emergency. We’ve converted into kind of an exercise room."
Two separate staircases lead upstairs where an art-adorned hallway wraps around the home’s central rotunda, connecting to five bedrooms each with their own original built-in modern furniture. Transoms windows and skylights flood this level with light and allows moonlight to make an appearance in a number of rooms depending on the seasons — a feature thought be deliberate foresight on the part of the architect.
The raised master bedroom offers Lake Michigan vistas and connects to a dedicated sitting/dressing area and a split bathroom. The walk-in closet has a passthrough to an internal outdoor terrace offering complete privacy from the neighbors. "The space lends itself to sunbathing in the nude, if you’re so inclined," winked Leo.
It’s clear walking through the property that the Melamed’s really have a lot invested in the specialness of Dart’s creation. "From an architectural point of view, you don’t normally see a house like this. Some of the neighbors are buildings new castles, but they’re all the same. The ideal owner would not only recognize the value of the architecture, but also live in the space — raise a bunch of children, throw big parties."
At a current asking price of $2,500,000, potential North Shore buyers will certainly have their fair share of homes to choose from, but the Melameds and broker Diane Freeman are on bullish on the prospect of selling the property. "It’s going to take a buyer that can appreciate its authenticity," explains Freeman. "The mid-century style is being copied everywhere but this home is the real thing."