BUYER WANTED: Pair of Prairie Avenue “Millionaire’s Row” Mansions Offered For Sale

Coleman-Ames House, 1886, 1811 S. Prairie, Henry Ives Cobb and Charles S. Frost. Photo credit: Positive Images

“The U.S. Soccer Federation has listed two adjacent South Loop mansions that it long has owned and used as its headquarters for a combined amount of $4.2 million, with one of them — the historic and French Chateauesque 14,734-square-foot William W. Kimball House — available for $2.3 million. The four-story, 12,648-square-foot brown sandstone mansion next door has an asking price of $1.9 million.

“The official governing body of soccer in the U.S. has been based in Chicago since moving from Colorado Springs, Colorado, to the South Loop in 1991. At that time, it moved its offices into the two adjoining mansions — the Kimball House, at 1801 S. Prairie Ave., and the house right next door at 1811 S. Prairie.

“The mansions were part of South Prairie Avenue ‘millionaire’s row,’ which was the most exclusive and fashionable neighborhood in Chicago in the late 1800s and early 1900s. For more than 75 years, however, the mansions have been used as office space, and with the soccer federation’s decision last year to vacate the two mansions and move its headquarters to the downtown high-rise office building at 303 E. Wacker Drive, the opportunity exists to convert the mansions back to single-family homes.

“Built between 1890 and 1892 at a reported cost of $1 million and designed by Pullman architect Solon S. Beman, the Kimball house, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971, stands three stories tall and has a Bedford limestone exterior, a slate mansard roof, a variety of steeply sloping roof shapes, dormer windows, and tall slender chimneys. The mansion was modeled after the 12th-century Chateau de Josselin in Brittany, France, and inside it has carved woodwork, onyx-adorned walls, a black onyx fireplace and leaded glass windows.

“The mansion was built for Kimball, a piano-manufacturing magnate. He died shortly after moving in, and his wife sold it in the 1920s. It later was a rooming house and then was owned by an architectural club and a group care home before it became office space, starting in the late 1940s. Publisher R.R. Donnelley donated both mansions to the Chicago Architecture Foundation in 1991, which leased them to the soccer federation. The group bought the mansions outright from the architecture foundation in 1996.

“The three-story Romanesque Revival-style mansion at 1811 S. Prairie was built in the mid-1880s, and early owners included Miner T. Ames and Joseph Fish, who was the president of the Brunswick-Balke-Collender Co. — now known as Brunswick Corp. The mansion was sold to a textbook publisher in 1921 and has been used as offices ever since.

“The mansion at 1811 S. Prairie was designed by noted architects Henry Ives Cobb and Charles S. Frost. Features include carved woodwork, cast plaster, leaded glass windows and a billiard room with built-in cue holders.

“They are connected to essentially have close to 30,000 square feet of flexible space,” she said. “We believe that the end buyer may convert to luxury condos or rental apartments, create two separate single-family homes, (become) an Airbnb (or) VRBO, (become) an event space or continue with another office building with little work considering the … U.S. Soccer Federation was running at this building for over 30 years.” (Goldsborough, Chicago Tribune, 1/21/23)


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