RANCH TRIANGLE — Some 2½ years after a "devastating fire" that left one fire chief calling it "an ice palace," Mulligan School threw open its doors Tuesday for an open house in its new guise as a luxury apartment building.
"Aren't we proud of this place?" Ald. Michele Smith (43rd) said. "I'm very, very proud to have this in our ward, to save this school and have it turn into such a beautiful building."
Landmarks Illinois' Real Estate and Building Industries Council joined Svigos Development in holding the open house, and the group's Lisa DiChiera cheered the conversion.
"It would be extremely wasteful for it to be demolished," DiChiera said. "These schools were built like fortresses. The quality of the material is so good.
"They are wonderful, wonderful buildings," she added, "and architecturally they are anchors in this neighborhood."
Ald. Michele Smith (left) and Lisa DiChiera of Landmarks Illinois talk at the Mulligan School open house. (DNAinfo/Ted Cox)
After buying the shuttered schoolhouse in 2013, Svigos Development converted the fourth-floor gymnasium and 23 classrooms into 24 apartments, a process made infinitely more complicated by the November 2014 fire that gutted the fourth floor, burned out the roof and left much of the interior with water damage.
But much of that original material was nevertheless retained, including floors that were removed, dried out, regrooved and replaced.
Classroom cabinets have been adopted into the decor, some bearing the burn marks where they were licked by flames, as have chalkboards, often used as kitchen design elements (and as built-in family-planning "wet boards"). And that gymnasium has been turned into a spacious "penthouse" with a gallery above the kitchen. Even a tall, wall-attached exercise pulley has been retained, for whatever use the new tenant might put it to.
Of course, there are all the modern amenities too, including central heating and air, Bosch appliances, gas fireplaces and smartphone entry.
"People are intrigued to live in a converted building like this," DiChiera said.
That penthouse is being marketed at $9,500 a month, while other smaller units go for as little as $3,500. All have those high 14-foot ceilings common to classrooms of the era.
Floor plans and other details can be found at mulliganapartments.com.