When we bought a condo and then put our beloved home on the market, we had no idea what lay ahead. Perhaps we should have paid better attention to the pending signs that COVID-19 was coming to our neck of the woods. All we could think of was how sad we were to let go of our Evanston home that we had loved for 45 years, and how we were in our seventies and needed less space and no stairs. So, we took the plunge and the bottom fell out.
After a week on the market, just as the pandemic became serious with school closings, social distancing, and people being told to #stayathome, we reluctantly went off the market. It made sense, especially after Governor Pritzker’s “shelter in place” order starting March 21 and ending (for now) April 7. Here we were, two people in the most vulnerable age group, wondering how we should proceed with selling a wonderful family home located near Evanston’s beautiful and historic lake front.
We raised three kids in our home at 1010 Sheridan Road. Walking to Lee Street beach in the summer, jumping in piles of leaves in the fall, building snowmen in the winter, and planting flowers and vegetables in the spring – these are precious memories of bringing up our children here. They walked to nearby Lincoln School and later to Nichols Middle School. In the summer, we all hung out at Lee Street Beach, less than a block from our home. Taking the “L” or Metra into Chicago was simple. Just walk a few blocks to the station at Main and Chicago Avenue. My husband could also drive downtown to work via Lake Shore Drive in under half an hour.
Our location made it easy to bike to Northwestern on the path along the lake and enjoy the many restaurants and stores within walking distance from our home. Great neighbors. Block parties. A fun backyard. Lots of activities for the kids from camps to skating at Robert Crown Community Center to enjoying the many playgrounds and parks in the area. Our children and their friends have fond memories of our third floor, which was a gigantic playroom back in the day, where they created many home movies and Barbie dramas. Now it serves as a great guest room with a tandem bedroom and ensuite bathroom. This house on Sheridan Road in southeast Evanston was a great place to raise a family. We were living our dream of being in a college town and a somewhat urban suburb.
1010 Sheridan Road has an interesting history. Built in 1911, it was described in beautiful script as a house with three water closets and two screened porches. There were two live-in maids who occupied the third floor of the house. Over 109 years, we are only the fifth owners and have lived here for the longest stretch of time. To give you a sense of how big the rooms are, the third owner, big band leader Griff Williams, had two grand pianos in the living room, one at each end.
We made a few changes over 45 years, each one with a story behind it. My husband is a therapist and his first home office on the third-floor forced patients to run the gauntlet of three young children who sometimes asked in too loud voices, “What’s his problem?” So, early on, we decided to convert the first-floor screened porch to a home office with a separate entrance for him, thus ensuring a modicum of privacy. Down the line, we added space pack air conditioning and removed the window units that kept breaking. In a huge and much costlier than we had imagined move, we modernized our hall bathroom, making it my favorite room in the house. And most recently, we opened the wall between the kitchen and dining room to create an open concept floor plan.
These were cosmetic changes that made the house fit our personal needs. But what made the house our home was all of the events we were able to host in it over so many years. Birthday parties and huge family gatherings in which I could serve a sit-down meal for 40 people on Thanksgiving. A wedding for my husband’s sister. Special birthday celebrations for our parents. Graduation celebrations. Engagement parties for our kids. Open houses for several of our grandkids’ births. Holiday celebrations with grandchildren running all over the house, now once again cluttered with toys. There is still enough room to house our eleven grandkids and their parents when they visit, with everyone having a comfortable place to sleep.
More than anything, it was our inability to host all of these celebrations as we aged that made us think about leaving the big, old house at 1010 Sheridan Road. It had become too quiet. Our in-town grandkids were getting older. The others came infrequently, as their children’s lives became consumed with friends and activities. We rarely used the living and dining rooms, and bedrooms sat empty aside from occasional sleepovers or guests. We almost never ventured up to the third floor. The house was calling out for change. It needed new life to fill it once again with activity and celebration. It was time to move.
Hopefully, we will be able to put our home back on the market this spring. My dream is to have someone walk into this house that holds so many precious memories for us and love our home for what it is, a gracious place to live and create memories in a wonderful location.