Historic 19th-Century Victorian Home in Bronzeville Gets Renovation

Bronzeville natives paid $525,000 for the property, home to pioneering Black attorney

Chicago /
Feb.February 17, 2022 12:50 PM

(Preservation Chicago, VHT Studios)

A 19th-century Victorian house, home to a pioneering Black attorney for more than eight decades, in the historic Bronzeville district on the city’s South Side sold and will get much-needed rehab.

Bronzeville natives Jeff Douglas and his wife Stephanie, who live a block away in another smaller greystone they restored, bought the seven-bedroom, 4,000-square-foot home for $525,000 on February 14, Crain’s reported. After two other contracts fell through, the couple paid five percent more than the listing price of $500,000 which hit the market in October. The Douglases expect the renovations to take about a year.

“There’s a lot of history there,” said Jeff Douglas, referring to the home, which was owned by Nathan McGill, the first Black assistant attorney general for the state of Illinois in 1929.

Nathan K. McGill, assistant attorney-general of Illinois (Wikipedia/Unknown author – Who’s Who in Colored America)

After graduating from Boston University with a law degree in 1912, McGill practiced in his native Florida until the early 1920s. He made a name for himself after moving to Chicago to become a general counsel for the Chicago Defender, the city’s Black news publication, and the first African-American appointed to the Chicago Library Board in 1930.

In the early 1930s, Nathan McGill and his wife Beatrice McGill bought the house, which features a limestone exterior, pillar carvings, bay windows, and a detailed cornice. A coach house with a two-story apartment on a lot comes with the main house, according to the publication.

(VHT Studios)

The house still has its original wormwood, tile, and stained glass, but utilities need to be renovated, Winston McGill Jr., one of Nathan McGill’s grandsons said. The house “demands a lot to be done.”

Home sales in Bronzeville have jumped since the pandemic as the South Side community’s affordability and proximity to the Loop gave buyers incentives to come to the district. The median price of homes sold in the neighborhood was $550,000 in the first 11 months of 2021, according to the Chicago Association of Realtors. That compares with $318,000, the median price of houses sold across the city in the same period.

[Crain’s] – Connie Kim





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