Jun
14

Oak Park Family Buys Famed Chicago Real Estate

June 14, 2012

The Chicago-area home in which Ernest Hemingway grew up and started his famous writing career has been sold, and the seller got everything it wanted.

Oak Park residents Kurt and Mary Jane Neumann bought the Hemingway’s Oak Park home at 600 N. Kenilworth Ave. this week for $525,000, the original asking price on the famed metro Chicago real estate that hit the market in February.

Hemingway’s mother, Grace, helped design the home, which was built in 1906 by Henry G. Fiddelke. Hemingway lived there from ages 7 to 17, and it’s where he began his Nobel-Prize-winning career in writing. The home parallels the setting in his “A Soldier’s Home” and was referenced in “A Farewell to Arms.”

The Prairie-style home, which was converted into three apartments in the 1930s, was purchased by the Ernest Hemingway Foundation of Oak Park in 2002 for $520,000 — a mere $5,000 less than this week’s selling price.

The Foundation had hoped to find buyers that would restore the abode to its original single-family layout, and the Neumanns say that’s exactly what they intend to do.

“It’s a gorgeous home with a rich history, and we are excited about the opportunity to return it to its former glory,’ said Mary Jane Neumann, who owns Ginkgo Acupuncture in the Oak Park Arts District on Harrison Street.

“The house has great bones, and our goal is [to] uncover many of its original features. We plan to use the Hemingway’s floor plans as a guide to the restoration. The first step is to reopen the master stairway between the first and second floors and then repair the exterior. Overall, we see this as a multi-year project – and a ‘labor of love.’”

In its current layout, the 4,200-square-foot, three-story home has six bedrooms, four bathrooms, multiple fireplaces, a huge front porch and a four-car detached garage.

The Neumanns, who have two young boys, appreciate the home’s history and say they eventually plan to work with the Ernest Hemingway Foundation of Oak Park and will occasionally open their home for viewing and research purposes.

“As a young man, I was influenced by Hemingway’s writing and sense of adventure. Like Hemingway, I grew up spending summers in northern Michigan and traveled extensively as a young adult,” said Kurt Neumann, a Chicago lawyer. “I am thrilled with the idea of raising our sons in a home with such a sense of history.”

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