2208 W. Pratt Boulevard

From HistoryWiki

2208 W. Pratt Boulevard, Rattenbury House.

This house was included in the 1996 Annual Fall House Tour.

Circa: 1913

Original Owner: William J. McDonald (1913-1922)

Second Owner: Florence Emerson (1922-1955)

Third Owner: Charles Christensen (1955-1977)

Present (1996) Owner: Bruce and Betty Rattenbury (1977-?)

There has been an unwritten pact between the Rattenburys and their neighbor to the east, the Nallys, (2200 W. Pratt Boulevard) to not put up a fence between their properties. In this way, their combined back yards become a large park. Underground sprinklers keep the two lawns at their greenest.

Bruce and Betty Rattenbury have lived here since the fall of 1977, when they bought the house from Charles Christensen. Mr. Christensen did a major front porch remodeling during his ownership that does not quite mesh with the building's original architectural features, but the Rattenbury's stewardship has done nothing but improve the home's livability. The Christensens lived here for 22 years, but do not hold the longevity record, since the previous owner, Florence Emerson was here for 33 years (from 1922-1955). Ms. Emerson purchased the house from the original owner, William J. McDonald the first president of the Edgewater Golf Club.

Like Jim and Alida Nally's home, what began as a moderate-sized house on a large lot, has been expanded into something special by well-planned conversions and additions. The Prairie School American Foursquare design was originally very symmetrical with a center entrance off an open air porch clad in red brick masonry with deep sofits and a slate-covered hip roof. The house is most notable for its rare original attached coach house/garage. Almost all garages were detached in that era.

The front entry is now on the west side of the enclosed porch that is ventilated by auto-lock awning-type windows. The foyer door is surrounded by a built-in bookcase and leads into several areas on the first floor. Down the hallway to the left is a bath with servant's quarters. To the immediate right is the living room with Mediterranean-influenced furniture. There are cove ceiling moldings and a lovely marble fireplace on the east wall.

Further ahead is a sitting parlor just before the dining room. This area was once divided by curtain walls, and is now open and very modern with a bay window to the rear. It is here in the west corner of the dining room, that the former coach house and coachman's quarters can be accessed through a door and stairwell going over the garage. Now used as a pine-paneled den or guest room, it offers an excellent view of the back yard.

The back yard has a concrete patio, wooden deck, and captivating garden plantings, but in the distance is the true prize. In 1995, the Rattenburys had Walter Andruszkiewicz design and build a remarkable new (but old-fashioned) garage with a small porch and gazebo tower. Easily one of the prettiest garages in the area.

Finally, at the northeast side of the first floor, there is another amazing Rattenbury rehab improvement. The old kitchen and pantry were demolished, some of the pantry giving space to the dining room, while the entire building was extended eight feet. The new kitchen is gorgeous and has more than ample cabinets, counter space, and cooking space.

The Mission-style spindle stair balustrade and carved newel post has been painstakingly stripped to its original oak surface and takes us upstairs to three exceptionally large bedrooms. The smallest room originally had a door to a full bath which has been walled over. The full bath off the front hall was recently (1996) tiled and has a nicely refinished pedestal sink and original Prairie-motif etched mirror.

Across the front of the house, a bedroom has been converted into a pool/ping pong play area. Down at the end of the long second floor hallway, past the built-in cabinets, is a commodious master bedroom with a spectacular new (1996) master bath built over the kitchen addition. Like the bedroom turned recreation area, there are picture frame moldings on the walls and generous closets.

The old steam heating system is still used for parts of the house and has left a legacy of intricate, vintage, metal radiator covers, in at least three styles. In the newer rehabbed areas, the Rattenburys installed gas forced-air heat and central air conditioning for a zoned climate control system. They have also put in new six-over-six French windows throughout the house.