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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Hemingway's boyhood home hits the market in Oak Park

Converted three-flat has drawn widespread interest from buyers, media

The Ernest Hemingway Boyhood Home in Oak Park has been up for sale for just a week, but has already drawn international interest from buyers and the media alike.

The nonprofit Ernest Hemingway Foundation of Oak Park first bought the three-flat, 600 N. Kenilworth Ave., in 2002. They had hopes of selling it to Dominican University and continuing its public use, but the partnership came apart last year, as fundraising lagged in a tough economy.

The home officially went up for sale last week with a price tag of $525,000, about $5,000 more than the foundation spent to buy it. Steve Scheuring, a Realtor with Baird & Warner, has already received about 30 inquiries about the property, some from as far as Japan.

"For some people, when it comes to Ernest Hemingway, this is the chance of a lifetime, if you have the means," Scheuring said.
Word of the boyhood home's availability — Hemingway lived there from age 7 to 17 — spread like wildfire last week, with dozens of publications covering the story. John Berry, chairman of the foundation's board, said a friend read about the offering in Turkey.

"It went viral really fast," Berry said. "It never ceases to amaze me how Hemingway stories just explode."
Last year was a notable one for the famous writer, he added, including being featured as a character in the Oscar-winning film Midnight in Paris. Now there is another film in the works, Hemingway & Gellhorn, starring Clive Owen as the scribe.

In the late 1950s, the boyhood home's previous owner converted its 4,200 square feet of space into a three-flat, which is now completely occupied. Scheuring said that many buyers have expressed interest in converting the residence back to a single-family home.

Hemingway's family first moved there in 1906, and his mother, Grace, was the last to vacate it in 1936. Hemingway left the home after high school to briefly take a post at The Kansas City Star before departing for Italy to drive an ambulance for the Red Cross during World War I.

The foundation bought the boyhood home by way of a $100,000 grant from the Village of Oak Park and a $420,000 loan from Park National Bank. Berry said they had hoped that the mortgage would eventually be forgiven, but that notion went kaput after the local bank was seized by the feds in late 2009. The loan was set to mature in June, but they've been able to extend it until they find a buyer.

Berry said the foundation isn't trying to dictate what the next owner does with the home, but he hopes someone emerges who'll respect the history and let the nonprofit use it once in a while for functions.
"We're still looking for that angel buyer, and we'll continue to do that," he said.

1 comment:

Cameron Rand com101 4044 said...

This is like an "extreme home makeover" moment. Drom like ancient and run-down, to modern and homie.