2147 W. Farwell Avenue
Second Owner: Aaron Surgel (1945-1968)
Third Owner: Don Luter (1968-1974)
Situated on the corner of Farwell Avenue and Bell Avenue, is a roomy looking three-flat with a garden apartment. Spectators passing on the east side of Bell can see this classy 1920s building has been well-maintained and lovingly updated with a cascading deck to the rear garden. Still, this does not prepare visitors for the many surprises of Larry and Marge Sondler's duplexed unit inside.
In 1974, Larry, Marge, and Larry's sister bought 2147-49 W. Farwell Avenue, a building that has had long-term tenants and few owners over the years. It was originally built in 1927 for Meyer Fakter and his wife Frances. They sold it to Aaron Surgel in 1945. Twenty-three years later, (1968), Don Luter bought the property. It finally passed to the Sondlers when Larry's sister sold her unit to them. They were then able to pursue their dream of duplexing the first and second floors.
Major work was involved, including enhanced HVAC systems, reconfiguring room layouts, gutting bathrooms, and kitchens, plus a great deal of architectural detail work. The Sondlers were very sensitive about preserving vintage features and creating new ones that reflected the original design elements.
These were family-sized apartments when they were built back in 1927. Today (1996), as a bi-level combination, the Sondlers have over 5,000 sq.ft. of space. On the first floor, beyond the black granite foyer is an enlarged living room and sun porch combination (32-ft. by 17-ft. at the widest points). It's so big that it swallows the 1919 W.W. Kimball and Company baby grand piano with room to spare. Original leaded, diamond pane casement windows are still intact on the Farwell Avenue side of the building, but the Sondlers have cleaver storm windows custom designed to protect them. Plaster cove ceiling moldings and restored round ogee arches compliment the new dentilated fireplace with copper and frosted glass Deco sconces. To the right of the fireplace is a reproduction Art Nouveau Quoizol torchiere. Please take note of the handcrafted spindle-style radiator covers.
The former kitchen has been converted to a storage vestibule area with a cedar closet. The old master bedroom is now opened up as a dining room with support beams masked as pillars, ogee arched alcove/display nook, an eloquent ceiling fixture, circa 1910, and a pair of Prairie-style doors. These doors lead to the new pantry and kitchen area carved out of a former bedroom and linked to a half bath. The kitchen is a masterpiece replete with granite counters, a center food preparation island, and illuminated by a trio of contemporary light fixtures. Just off the kitchen is a recycling closet.
Beyond the former servant's bedroom and bath with pre-depression-era basket weave tile floor is a new internal stairway to the upper floor with made-to-order railings. The living room has become the Sondler's master bedroom, complete with a wood-burning fireplace, gigantic cedar-line dressing room closet and master bathroom. A treat is the rocking giraffe.
Also, to the rear, in a transitional stage, is the library, formerly the office. The second floor hallway ends with a cedar closet and laundry room with half bath. There's even a eating area and pooperie for pets.
Descending to the first floor, you exit through the breakfast room, and go outside to a multi-level deck. The deck was fabricated from very dense, hard, and heavy, exotic Brazilian Paulopi teak with rounded steps. There is a shield motif echoing the building stonework in the deck railing. Changing the garage entry to the alley side doubled the size of the backyard, enabling the Sondlers to add a lily pond stocked with fish.