French-Inspired, Nineteen Room Duplex in Chicago's Gold Coast

Photo Gold Coast Duplex

Image of Wall Street Journal Mansion SectionAn exceptional Gold Coast 10,000 sq ft Duplex Apartment on Lake Shore Drive with seven bedrooms, seven bathrooms and two half baths. The unit, with nineteen windows overlooking Lake Michigan, occupies the premier SE tier of the building Built in 1927 and designed by McNally & Quinn with New York architect, Rosario Candela. The home, located on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago's Gold Coast neighborhood was recently featured in the Mansion section of The Wall Street Journal's August 18th issue and has had only 3 owners in its almost 100 hundred year history. The original owner was P.K. Wrigley, Jr., former President of Wrigley Gum and the Chicago Cubs followed by Angelo Arena, the former chairman of Marshall Fields and Company. 

Beauty is often found within the details and here, there is no exception. Designed with an attentive eye for the vein of 18th mid-century Parisian interior design that dominated the architectural milieu in the time of Louis XV, the luxury duplex never delves into mawkish caricature nor does it stagnate with the impersonal museum quality of most historic estates. It rises above.

The floors in the rooms for entertaining are parquet de Versailles. The parquet flooring offers several advantages to the panel flooring of the current beau monde. Parquet de Versailles was originally a replacement to marble, but it captured the imagination of the French interior design sensibilities because of an unusual advantage that parquet has above the common wood flooring. The knotted line work elevates and draws the eye pleasantly upwards while emphasizing what and who are in the room as oppose to plank flooring which draws the eye merely across the room. This desirous quality is why parquet is oft-seen in private suites from the Hotel Ritz in Paris to the Hotel Metropol in Moscow.

Gold Coast Duplex Staircase and Flooring TypesThe floors of the foyer and kitchens are limestone with Cabochon insets imported from France. When one first walks through the foyer it offers an opportunity if one chooses to see the style of Louis XV with exquisite boiserie paneling and restrained exuberance of high elegance. Perfect in its proportions, the foyers 4 marble statues representing the seasons, lead the guest to two choices: further along the floor or to the staircase. The curling staircase is a marvel in the authenticity of craftsmanship and casual elegance of the French style. Built of limestone with wrought-iron balustrades in the fashion familiar to the chateaus of Normandy and constructed over three months by French master stonemasons, it was sized to be large enough to inspire but small enough to remain intimate. The staircase carries a certain romance that implores one to walk up for much-wanted privacy or to hold one’s breath while waiting for who will come down.

Each room defines itself by its relation to the rest of the house. The floor plans retain a wide expanse for transformative tastes to make any room ones own without aesthetic sacrifice. The major connective tissue of the home is in the well-sourced paneling throughout. The smaller dining room has antique paneling, painted with plants and fruits in a style reminiscent of botanical woodcuts from the 17th and 18th century, and was found in a serendipitous moment in a Parisian market. The formal dining room continues the historic paneling which was sourced from the private collection of the most well-known boiserie specialist in Paris.

The library exemplifies the soft palette of the Rococo style. The pale blue of the paneling is the original paint and it was acquired from the Galerie Gismondi, an antique dealer of par excellence with a specialty in Ancién Regime to Second Empire. The beautiful windows offer stunning views for one to while away the day and highlights the attention paid throughout the entire premises to the importance and value of good lighting. The rooms glow from the great views, the soft color palette, the light wood floors. The crisp whites of ceilings, with a crystal chandelier. The smallest rooms open up. The largest rooms stay intimate. 

The living room continues the thematic pattern of extraordinary boiserie. The panel work is 2/3rds of an original room from a Grand House along the Place Vendôme in the 1st Arrondissement of Paris. The other third is currently owned by the famed Milan jewelry house, Buccellati. The provenance of the panels have been sourced to the mistress of Jean-Honoré Fragonard, regarded alongside his mentor Boucher as the greatest painter of the late Rococo period as well as a major influence on Renoir. This is no ordinary coincidence. Each room can be seen, ultimately, as a work of Art. Intricate with clean lines. Delicate and meticulously constructed. This home is more than just floor, ceiling, walls and windows. Each room has a story. 

Room images of Gold Coast Duplex

There is a painstaking level of accuracy and artistic sentiment found here. From the small flourishes, all the way to the larger panel work and the very doors themselves this home plays with the weight of history and time in a unique way. It’s a very rare treat to see a place of such distinction and refinement both in and outside of Europe.

The list price for this French-inspired Gold Coast duplex is $9,990,000. It is represented by Kieran Conlon and Ken Dooley of CONLON/Christie’s International Real Estate.

View more photos of the home:

The Wall Street JournalSee the listing featured
in the Mansion section
of The Wall Street Journal.  

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