1194 W. Sherwin Avenue
This residence was included in the 1991 Annual Fall House Tour.
Original Owner: Anton Wells
1194 W. Sherwin Avenue is a private entry, Duplex Apartment with the 1200 W. Sherwin Avenue Apartments, also known as "The Breakers." The building is situated on the shore of Lake Michigan and is significant from an architectural standpoint, with its crenulated battlement and undulating bays. The vintage property was renovated in the period between 1989 and 1991, including the installation of a distinctive courtyard garden and seven-foot wrought-iron fence.
The residence itself is actually the combination of three individual units - a studio and two one-bedroom apartments - converted to a new four-bedroom, four bathroom completely renovated space of approximately 2,000 square feet. The entryway was formerly the rear porch access which has been sealed off from the other tiers within the building. The common brick was sandblasted and maintained as one of the interesting features of the building.
The first floor is the primary family area, with three children's bedrooms and the family room. Previously, the north bedroom had been a dining room and the bathroom was the kitchen, for that particular unit. A loft bed has been installed to maximize the floor area.
Part of the character of this home is the staircase leading to the upper level, which is somewhat steep. The steps were buried in a closet and had existed previously, leading one to believe that the two levels were originally duplexed when the property was built (in fact, the lower level kitchen which was reconverted to a bath already had bathroom plumbing buried beneath the base cabinets). The staircase, of course, cannot be relocated or redesigned, so its steepness is something one must live with. It has been trimmed with a harmonious blend of natural oak and a contemporary handrail.
Upstairs - the living room, dining room, and kitchen have been opened up to more fully expose the lake view, which is outstanding. The kitchen, especially, has been redesigned with a large picture window to look directly out onto the water. The open space is defined with a breakfront of glass block, capped with concrete. The glass block has also been introduced into the living room, for balance.
As a postmodern blend of old and new, an original vintage, glass-front kitchen cabinet has been refurbished and retained. Also, the original "picture" molding has been restored throughout and custom lighting fixtures have been installed.
In what was formerly the entrance hall of the second floor unit, a new closet and doorway have been provided for the master bedroom. A linen closet is uniquely situated within the masonry wall where the entrance door to the unit had been located.
The bathroom retains the original cast iron tub, although it has been refinished and dressed up with a tile surround.
The upgraded apartment has all the features and convenience of a contemporary home including control of heating and air conditioning, laundry facility, and an indoor heated garage. However, it has the warmth and appeal of a vintage home and the incredible allure of the lake shore and private beach.