Sold: Chicago mansion; renovated chimney, bombed once

A retired pilot fulfilled his lifelong dream by moving into a Glen Ellyn mansion with a colorful past.

The Chicago Mansion (Photos via Creative Light Studio, iStock)
The Chicago Mansion (Photos via Creative Light Studio, iStock)

David O’Neill has wanted to live in Glen Ellyn ever since he delivered papers there as a boy. But a labor dispute nearly 100 years ago almost destroyed the house that allowed him to fulfill his dream.

“I used to be a paperboy for the Chicago Daily News, and I remember delivering newspapers here, thinking, my gosh, someday it would sure be nice to have a house like this. Initially, it was out of my price range, but it came down and we negotiated, and I ended up getting it,” O’Neill, a retired FedEx pilot, told the Chicago Tribune.

The four-bedroom, 6,200-square-foot mansion O’Neill bought in August for $990,000, more than $600,000 below the original asking price, was bombed in 1931 as a result of a labor dispute between the initial owner and union workers building the house.

Jessie “J.K.” Marshall, president of Chicago-based jewelry and watchmaking company C.&E. Marshall Co. commissioned the mansion for $100,000 in 1930. Marshall, who initially employed union workers, began receiving threatening letters after ordering them off the job several times, the Tribune reports.

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On Feb. 10, 1931, a black-powder bomb exploded in the chimney flue, causing roughly $5,000 in damage. A Tribune article from the time reported that “many dwellings blocks away were jarred and scores of windows were broken.”

Despite the attack, the mansion was completed the following year and was home to Marshall and his family until 1955. The most recent owners bought the house in 1984 for $320,000 and continually renovated it. The home now includes a Spanish-style front exterior, a dining room with a two-story vaulted and beamed ceiling and an interior balcony overlooking the dining room, among other ornate features, according to the Tribune.

The property was listed in November 2020 for $1.6 million. The asking price was cut by $100,000 five times before June 2021. Though this house had trouble selling, the Chicago luxury market has been surging.

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[Chicago Tribune] — Harrison Connery

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