Ex-Montgomery Wards Chicago Penthouse Would Make Any Winter Bearable

Share News:

River North is a section of Chicago that’s a little north and west of the main skyscraper areas of the city. So finding a 28th-floor penthouse gives one a perspective not easy to replicate.

Of course, it helps when the ceilings are 14 feet tall with edge-to-edge glass. The building is called The Montgomery because it was the home of catalog retailer Montgomery Wards, who began operations in 1872 and folded in 2001. It was an omnipresent second fiddle to Sears. Nicknamed Monty Wards, in 1939 it was a Wards’ copywriter who created Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer. In the late 1980s Wards also broke the $1,000 price point for a home computer during a “Back to School” sale.

Anyway, the building dates from the 1970s and was converted to condos in 2005, five years after Wards announced its liquidation. Being a 1970s office building, it’s not the super sexy high-rise you’d expect to see in Chicago today, but the four-cornered supports enable a tremendous amount of glass across the front and rear elevations. Skirting the top floor of the building is the view seen in the opening photo. You should also note that as a former office building, there are no balconies – except the penthouses with their rooftop terraces.

Floorplans are wonderful to orient buyers

Before we get too far, here’s the bullet – the home is unit 2801, located at 500 W. Superior Street. It’s 4,800 square feet of indoor space with an additional 1,000-square-foot outdoor roof terrace. There are three bedrooms with three full and one-half bathrooms.

Entering the unit you’re engulfed in a massive living, dining, and kitchen area. Yes, there’s one structural column, but just one. The staircase takes you to the upper floor family room and that 1,000-square-foot, skyscraper-top terrace. There are no window coverings because it would be criminal. (The tall black building on the right? Willis Sears Tower.)

Behind that last pic is the kitchen. The black, brass, white, and light wood palette offers an elegant, yet manageable kitchen. What you can’t see is that the windows continue beyond the kitchen for a reason – there’s a second one right behind this one. Is this the “show” kitchen? Is the other one for catering? Perhaps the owners keep Kosher. Whatever the reason, you have a family-sized environment that’s easily pressed into service for the most coveted social gatherings.

But food isn’t the only thing on our minds, is it?  Tucked next to the staircase is a wine room. That door to the left? That’s the front door, hidden away until it’s needed.

Beyond the staircase is the master suite with a 400-square-foot bedroom. This time there are curtains because even with that view, you have to sleep sometime. At the end of the room is a fireplace and seating area.

The master bedroom isn’t the only thing that’s 400 square feet. Have a peep at the similarly sized “hers” closet. Remember, we’re still talking about 14-foot ceilings. Not only do you get the regular, reachable height display and hang space, but two higher levels of storage for seasonal items. Again, Sears Tower in the distance.

Yes, as usual, “he” got a bit shortchanged in the closet department at “just” 250 square feet. I’m hoping there’s a party-clothes alcove somewhere or else Jack is certainly a dull boy (or the closet is staged).  But I’m definitely loving the sleek “chandelier” in here.

With 650 square feet of combined closet space, you knew the bathroom would be equally plush. There are two side-by-side showers and an overhead rain shower in addition to the expected dual sinks and freestanding, eggy bathtub. That doorway? Water closet.

Before we run away to call our trust fund manager, let’s look at the upper family room/third bedroom space. Twenty-seven feet of windows overlooking the city and the huge terrace.

Even in the darkest, coldest winter’s evening, I can’t imagine not wanting to bundle up and take in the sight of the city enveloped in steam rising from buildings in the distance. Or in the spring nervously drinking in a riotous thunderstorm wondering which high-rise might get struck by lightning (what lightning rods are made for). Of course a regular summers’ day with friends offers equal pleasure.

It’s listed with Mary Hanburger of Jameson Sotheby’s International Realty for $4.995 million.

You hear a lot about million-dollar views. For such a sumptuous home overlooking a vibrant city, these views have every right to be called $4.995 million views.


Remember: When I’m not stirring up trouble in Dallas, Texas or Honolulu, Hawaii for Candysdirt.com and SecondShelters.com, I’m off scouting interesting locations for a second home.  In 2016, 2017 and 2018, the National Association of Real Estate Editors recognized my writing with three Bronze (2016, 2017, 2018) and two Silver (2016, 2017) awards. If you’re a Realtor with second home clients who’d like me to feature their journey, shoot me an email sharewithjon@candysdirt.com. Be sure to look for me on Facebook and Twitter. You won’t find me, but you’re welcome to look.