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Rare West Town bathhouse with original tiles and quirky layout asks $975K

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The multi-unit residence needs work, but its history might make it worthy

Photos courtesy of Scott Fishman, Compass

While the Russian bathhouses frequented today are more like spas, these public buildings constructed by the city back between 1894 and 1914 were for hygiene before indoor plumbing was required by law. Of the 20 or so bathhouses built during that time, only four remain as private residences. Currently, this is the only one on the market and it’s listed for $975,000.

Most bathhouses were constructed with a utilitarian approach, keeping the design simple, according to information on Forgotten Chicago. The facilities were named after public officials. This one was named after Joseph Medill who was the co-owner and managing editor of the Chicago Tribune and later the mayor after the Great Fire of 1871.

The two-story building was turned into a multi-unit setup on a double lot. For anyone who can see past the closed floor plan and neglected backyard, there’s a lot of special historic details like the original hexagon tiles and wooden built-ins. The first floor has a huge loft with one bedroom, one bathroom, an office, and sauna. The second floor consists of two bedrooms, one bathroom, and a rooftop deck.

In 2002, this property sold for $610,000, and the spike in price now indicates the value of West Town. It’s sandwiched between two other trendy neighborhoods many people are looking to live, West Loop and Wicker Park, so the high cost isn’t necessarily unexpected.

However, the near million dollar price tag is surprising for a place that needs some cosmetic upgrades. The light fixtures and finishes could use updating and the basement, which has 10-foot ceilings, needs to be finished. Right now, the home is separated into different units, which is great for an in-law apartment or renting out space, but if you wanted a single family home that would be another added cost.

Whatever plans the visionary new owner has for this building, there’s potential for a unique home here.