IMPULSIVITY IS often seen as a negative. But, every now and then, acting on a whim leads to something great. Spouses Shane and Abhi would be the first to agree. They were in no rush to move out of their existing home, a “cute Cape Cod with fantastic neighbors.” Yet, for some reason, while Shane was at work, Abhi decided to pop over to North Illinois Street to look at a house for sale. When he pulled up to the front, he recalls being overcome by a “magical, emotional feeling. I was enamored immediately.” At Abhi’s urging, Shane toured it that same day. The two agreed: It was love at first sight.
Both are admirers of the original features often found in old houses, and this one, circa 1910, has plenty among the three floors of living space. The narrow-plank, hardwood floors and massive windows spoke to Abhi, while Shane was drawn to the elegance of the entryway and the incredible second-floor landing. “With how the layout is set up, the landing feels like the core of the home,” Shane says. “We see this being a space where we can make lots of memories.” They’re also looking forward to digging into the home’s history—most notably, its connection to the internationally known American writer and war correspondent to Paris, Janet Flanner, who lived there in her youth. Her writing, especially her column for The New Yorker under her pen name Genêt, was widely praised for its sensibility and insightfulness.
Once the pair has “gotten to know the house and its vibe,” Abhi explains, they’ll choose new paint colors. From there, they’ll go one room at a time, always with an eye toward preservation. “Our first instinct is to save things,” Abhi says. Long-term plans include adding a bathroom and bedroom to the first floor, bringing in more natural light to that second-floor landing, and creating a primary ensuite.
The link to Flanner, who was a noted figure in the LGBTQ and expat communities in the U.S. and France, adds another rich layer to the house for the couple. “It’s important to recognize those early heroes. They serve as a reminder of just how far we’ve come,” Abhi says.
Home sold by Joe Everhart/Quinn Demaree, Everhart Studio.