caponeIt was his first home in Chicago, and his mother lived there until her death, and in 2019, you could own a slice of Al Capone history for practically a song.

“I came to Chicago with $40 in my pocket,” Alphonse Gabriel Capone said once, and not long after that he began working for mobster Johnny Torrio. Not long after that, he and his family moved into the six bedroom, two apartment Park Manor home located at 7244 South Prairie Ave.

“This was the Chicago home of Al Capone and Family. Al Capone and family began to move into the place on August 8,1923,” explained listing agent Ryan Smith with Re/Max Properties. “The ownership was under Mae and Theresa Capone.”

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Not Thomas Lincoln

There’s the Lincoln Property Company I typically have a beef with, and then there’s Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States. We’re talking about the latter here.

Back in 1841, Lincoln’s father, Thomas, wasn’t rolling in dough, and a 32-year-old Abraham helped him out by purchasing 40 acres of farmland outside Charleston in central Illinois. At the time, Lincoln was a state representative for Sangamon County (home to state capital Springfield) some 90 miles away. What’s also chronologically interesting is that 1841 was also the time Lincoln called off a marriage with Mary Todd before a reconciliation and the birth of their first child, Robert Todd Lincoln some two years later.

Yesterday, the original 40-acre parcel is now 30, and has for the past 30 years been part of a 590 acre farm that was sold at auction (on Lincoln’s birthday). The Times-Courier and Mattoon Journal-Gazette reports that on Feb. 12, 2019, 560 acres sold for $7,000 per acre, or $3.9 million. The Lincoln 30 acres were sold separately for $10,000 per acre, or $300,000 to an unnamed buyer with unknown plans for the site.

How the 40 acres became 30 is just what happens over time.

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AspenWhile the house itself may look a bit different from when John Denver and his wife Annie bought it in the 1970s, the Aspen estate still has the views that inspired him to write “Starwood in Aspen.”

The local couple that bought the home in 2016 put the home on the market last month, after doing extensive remodeling, telling the Denver Business Journal that they installed new floors, and replaced the windows and the roof. They took pains to save the fireplaces, stained-glass work, copper sinks and fixtures, and the cabinetry, which was refinished and, in places, repurposed.

Denver purchased the home, and expanded it while he lived there. (more…)

chapelThis week’s historical shelter takes us to the village of North Lopham, Norfolk, England, where a Methodist chapel built in 1826 shows us that you can never, ever, judge a book by its cover.

The former chapel that once contained three bays, is now an open floor plan sitting on a little more than a half acre of land. And as you know, we’re suckers for a good church conversion.

Listed by Bedfords, the 2,245 square foot conversion takes advantage of the grand proportions you’d expect of a chapel, creating a light-filled interior that is anything but stuffy. Curved walls were designed intentionally to draw the eye up.

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RiversideHe designed 33 homes in Riverside, California, and the one acclaimed architect Robert Spurgeon Jr. built for his parents, Robert Sr. and Lillian, is now up for grabs.

Riverside, albeit landlocked in the Inland Empire, is actually an ideal second home location for a few factors — it’s an easy hour drive to the beach, and less than 45 minutes to Disneyland, for one. It’s also home to Fairmount Park, an urban oasis with a stocked pond that is a refuge to several species of birds — and designed by the firm of Frederick Law Olmstead, who designed New York’s Central Park.

And back in the day (in fact, when we say “back in the day” in this case, we mean exactly around the time Spurgeon built this home), Riverside’s close proximity to Hollywood, along with all its interesting architecture, made it one of the frequent spots film studios would pick for the perfect scenery for their movies, including the 1919 film Boots, starring Dorothy Gish.

On days you don’t want to drive to the beach or Disneyland, there is still plenty to do closer to home. The California Citrus State Park (Riverside is believed to be the birthplace of California’s citrus industry) provides ranger-led tours, fruit tastings, and more.

You can also tour the historic Mission Inn, and hike up to Mount Rubidoux, and the University of California Riverside offers 39 acres of botanic gardens, plus several museums.

From left: Robert Spurgeon Sr., Lillian, granddaughter Gloria, daughter Grace, and Robert Spurgeon, Jr. Right: An early photo of the home Spurgeon designed for his parents (Photo courtesy Evergreen Memorial Historic Cemetery).

It was this town that the Spurgeon family ended up settling in, living before in Chicago, New York, and Denver. His parents moved there not long after the younger Sturgeon returned to the country after serving in World War II, to assist his sister after her husband died. He joined the rest of the family not long after that, eventually building homes and properties all over Riverside, including the employee homes for Pinkerton Detective heir Allan Pinkerton, the rebuilding of the Porter House, and the Elijah Parker House. (more…)

Mardi GrasOn a street lined historic homes, in a neighborhood full of historic homes, this week’s historical shelter may be small, but it’s also the antidote for any Mardi Gras FOMO you might be experiencing this year.

After all, if you’ve been flicking through photos of all the festivities going on right now, you might also be having a bit of internal conflict — how do you get close to all that fun, but not so close that you’re dealing the hustle and bustle of the New Orleans French Quarter?

The answer just might be in this 1919 Greek Revival building, where one of 10 units is up for sale for $299,500. Located at 1206 Chartres St., Unit 2 is the perfect pad for the occasional NOLA visitor, who wants more comfort and freedom than the usual hotel.

Courtesy of MardiGrasNewOrleans.com

And, bonus, it’s also on a few of the parade routes, but not every parade route.

The 509 square foot home is in the lower residential end of the Quarter, and is one of five Greek Revival buildings in the area that are considered architecturally significant, listing agent Wayne Wilkinson with French Quarter Realty said. (more…)

gold rushAlways a hotel, this week’s gold-rush era historical shelter in California also has its place in history as the location for an office and stage stop for an express company that ran mail across the country.

The site of the current Hotel Sutter, located in Sutter Creek, California, was first home to the American House Hotel, built in 1851. It served as a stop for Adams & Co., later Adams Express Company, which pre-dated Wells Fargo.

Sutters Mill

Sutter Creek is named after a local creek, which in turn got its name from a local prospector, John Sutter, who discovered gold nearby in 1848, triggering the California Gold Rush.  Sutter owned a sawmill where the mother lode was found, and after fortune hunters began trampling his land, he decided to prospect, too, moving to Sutter Creek to begin his own mining operation, using his servants to mine, something that drew the disapproval of the miners also working to find gold. Eventually, he returned to Sutter’s Fort in Sacramento and never mined again.

By 1852, Sutter Creek had a post office. Two years later, it was a town. In 1913, it incorporated.

Over time, the town became a boomtown, moving from gold mining to quartz mining until 1942, when most of the gold mines were closed during the war.

In 1865, disaster struck the town of Sutter Creek when fire ravaged the business district, burning the American House Hotel to the ground. It was rebuilt, and went through several name changes — the American Exchange Hotel, the Belotti Inn, and now the Hotel Sutter.

And while gold mining doesn’t happen in Sutters Creek anymore, there are plenty of nearby wineries and breweries, restaurants, and shopping. And the area that was once known for gold is now known for having land perfect for growing grapes, making Amador County a go-to place for a more dressed-down wine country. (more…)

AmericanThere is just something about a Colonial and Early American era home that makes you want to pull out the David McCullough books and transport yourself back to the incredible point in time where a new nation was born.

And we’ve made no secret of our love of a well-preserved home from that era — we’ve written about the Green Hill House in Salem, Virginia; the Philadelphia home of Joseph Hopkinson; the Daniel Bliss Homestead in Rehoboth, Massachusetts; and the Samuel Jones house in Concord, Massachusetts.

This week’s historical shelter was built in 1672, and was home to Joseph Hosmer, who was a lieutenant at the beginning of the American Revolutionary War. In fact, he acted as adjutant in the Battle of Concord, which happened the same day as the Battle of Lexington — April 19, 1775.

The Battle Of Concord, 1775

It was a date that is now pointed to as the beginning of the Revolutionary War.

“I really don’t have time to spare from our household chores to write in this Journal–and yet, I must, to calm my nerves and enable me to think clearly about these perilous times,” wrote Hosmer’s wife, Lucy the night before. “This I must surely do to help my husband, Joseph Hosmer, our four children, and our dear village of Concord. No shots have yet been fired but already we are a wartime community…Last night Joseph and I drove by ox team two wagon loads of ammunition from Acton to hide on Deacon Jonathan Hosmer’s farm there. His twenty-year-old son, Abner, is Joseph’s third cousin and an Acton Minuteman.” (more…)