Country Squire – Chicago Magazine

LLike many towns in the western suburbs, Naperville has grown significantly over the past few decades, with farmland and prairie giving way to homes. Many are McMansions, whose turrets, pitched roofs, and cavernous halls signify the good life (if not the good taste) for those who left the duplexes and bungalows behind. But Naperville didn’t come from the developers’ drawing boards. Incorporated in 1857, the community is rich in historic homes. A great example: the Bauer Mansion, at 1520 North Loomis Street, now on the market for $1.9 million.

Once the mansion of a large estate – it still occupies over an acre – this 18-room (including six bedrooms) residence was built in 1904 by publisher John C. Bauer, who operated from Burnham and Root’s Masonic Temple at State and Randolph. In addition to publishing the popular Horse examinationBauer got into the cut flower business and erected several greenhouses on his 380-acre property.

Built by the Birn Concrete Block and Tile Company of Chicago at a cost of around $25,000, the mansion was hailed as one of Naperville’s finest – at the time the largest concrete block house in Illinois. Sporting a covered porch worthy of an inn, fireplaces topped with colorful glazed tiles, and stained glass windows, the house still exudes a Midwestern sobriety—grand, but not too grand.

The living room of Bauer Mansion

It’s had few owners over the years, and much of what made it special – from the pocket doors to the leaded glass – remains. But thanks to renovations by the current owner, there’s nothing decidedly Victorian about it. Contemporary touches include a large, professional-grade kitchen and family room with a retractable glass wall that opens to a two-level deck overlooking a park-like courtyard with a fountain. The suburbs have never looked so good.

Toya J. Bell