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Colvin House Transformed: Check Out The Landmark's New Look

By Linze Rice | October 6, 2017 6:25am
 The Colvin House in Edgewater is almost ready to open its doors to the public. Here's a look at the landmark's transformation and preservation.
Colvin House Preview
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EDGEWATER — After suffering decades of neglect as a private residence, the freshly renovated historic Colvin House is nearly ready to open as a co-working space, open to the public.

Angela Valavanis, owner of Creative Coworking in Evanston, bought the property at 5940 N. Sheridan Road last year for $1.15 million. It has been a Chicago landmark since 1994.

One of the few surviving lakefront mansions on the Far North Side, the home was built in 1909 by architect George Maher, a cohort of Frank Lloyd Wright.

Since buying the property for a second Creative Coworking location, Valavanis and her team have painstakingly restored and transformed the massive and opulently decorated home: repairing water damage, applying bright, fresh paint, restoring original lighting fixtures and floors, adding French doors, and turning a network of former bedrooms and butler rooms into private offices, group work spaces and conference rooms.

In total, the house now offers five private offices of varying sizes, five meeting rooms, two large event rooms on the first floor and two shared work rooms.

Creative Coworking will offer a number of membership options, ranging from a $75/month 3-day occasional use membership, to a $350/month premiere package, and several in between. Offices and suites can be reserved for $1,000-$2,000 a month, and larger areas in the house can be used for private events like business gatherings or even baby showers.

Valavanis said the property would also be open to tours during daily business hours — for anyone interested in seeing the house, not just potential renters. 

On Oct. 14-15, it will also be part of the Chicago Architecture Foundation's Open House Chicago tour. 

After it receives its final city inspection, the building will be ready to open, Valavanis said.

In total, the property cost "as much or more to renovate than to buy," she said.

"But to me it's well worth it to be saving this gorgeous building from falling apart," Valavanis added. "This way it's something the community can use and it won't be closed to the public. It's been fun to see how neighbors have genuine love for this building."

Owner Angela Valavanis said she can't wait to open the renovated Colvin House to the public. [DNAinfo/Linze Rice]

What could be left and restored was, Valavanis said, and original details that could remain were abundant. What couldn't be saved was most often replaced with something similar. 

Dark gold paint was replaced with a lighter cream, water-damaged white walls were changed to a calming blue and modern amenities like a commercial kitchen, fire doors and wheelchair lift were added.

One thing that did not change: a shocking pink second floor bathroom that was too good to pass up.

Much of the home's cream and yellow Spanish-style exterior didn't change either; it's protected under the city's landmark ordinance.

A mural by Greenstar Movement just outside the house is new, however, and pays homage to not only the neighborhood's rich mix of cultures and ethnicities, but elements of the house itself — such as tulip and triangle designs that are repeated throughout the home's facade.

Every detail was scoured over with intent and care, Valavanis said.

Get a sneak peek inside the house before it's open to the public by checking out our photos below.

All photos DNAinfo/Linze Rice