Jefferson Park home built for Chicago’s first Polish alderman is up for sale

JEFFERSON PARK – A house in the far northwest built more than 100 years ago for the city’s first Polish alderman is up for sale – and its owners and local curators are hoping it will be bought by someone who won’t tear it down.

The house at 5318 N. Central Ave. features a wrap-around porch on three sides, five bedrooms, living room and dining room, unfinished attic and basement, high ceilings and period woodwork. He belonged to the family of August J. Kowalski, the first Polish alderman, who served the 16th district from 1888-1890.

It is sold for $449,000.

The house, which sits on an 8,700 square foot lot, was built in 1907 by architect Henry Kley, said Frank Suerth, board member and co-founder of the Northwest Chicago Historical Society.

Credit: red fin
The two-apartment Victorian home located at 5318 N. Central Ave. features five bedrooms, a living room and dining room, an unfinished attic and basement, high ceilings and period woodwork.

Kley designed mansions in Wicker Park in the late 1890s, according to the Chicago Designslinger blog. Along with the architect Fritz Lang, he participated in the design of several former Schlitz brewery linked houses which now have monument status.

The Jefferson Park home was designed for the Kowalski family, Suerth said. Outside of local politics, the Polish-born businessman was general manager of the National Beverage Company Brewery for 25 years and treasurer of St. Joseph’s Building and Loan Association.

Kowalski was also one of the founding members of Our Lady of Victory Church, Suerth said. Founded in 1906, it is the oldest Catholic church in the far northwest. The church closed its parish in 2021, and neighbors are pushing for the building to become a Chicago landmark.

Kowalski, who had eight children, died at home Oct. 12, 1922, at age 65 and is buried in St. Adalbert Cemetery in Niles, Suerth said.

Credit: red fin
The two-apartment Victorian home located at 5318 N. Central Ave. features a three-sided wrap-around porch, five bedrooms, living room and dining room, unfinished attic and basement, high ceilings, and period woodwork.

The house is believed to be the last Victorian home of this size in the area, Suerth said.

“There were other Victorian houses around, and they’re all gone now,” Suerth said.

Suerth group and other curators and historians want to see the house protected and repaired – not torn down by a developer.

” It’s a lot. A quarter of an acre is a lot of land,” said Suerth, of Jefferson Park. “That’s more for a developer than for someone who wants to live there, fix the house. … But every year we lose houses on a double lot.

Credit: Ariel Parrella-Aureli/Block Club Chicago
The two Victorian apartments at 5318 N. Central Ave., seen July 22, 2022, features a three-sided wrap-around porch, five bedrooms, a yard, and an unfinished attic and basement.

Gina Paterno Schrantz, the realtor and owner of the home, said she was not interested in selling to a developer. She hopes a family invested in maintaining the property can move in and keep its history alive.

It could also be converted into a duplex as a multi-family dwelling, but it requires repairs such as window repair and wood replacement, among others. The interior of the house is in better condition than its exterior, according to the listing.

“I would like someone private [buy] the property. … I’m looking for a family to raise kids there to keep him in the neighborhood,” Paterno Schrantz said.

The house has been in Paterno Schrantz’s family for decades, she said. His grandparents lived there for 20 years until their death. His family no longer wants to keep the house; they put it on the market earlier this summer, she says.

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