“The buyers of a historical Lake Shore Drive mansion owned since the early 1950s by the International College of Surgeons will convert it back into a single-family home. J. Michael and Julie Whitted paid $4.25 million for the mansion at 1516 Lake Shore Drive today. That’s one-quarter of the $17 million the surgeons group was asking when it put the mansion on the market in September 2015.
“‘Our plans are to restore this historic home, protecting the craftsmanship and priceless historic details,’ J. Michael Whitted said in a text message, ‘while updating it with modern conveniences so a family of today can enjoy it.’
“Built in 1914 on what’s now inner Lake Shore Drive, the part that will not be renamed for Jean Baptiste Point Du Sable, the mansion ‘provides breathtaking, uninterrupted views of Lake Michigan,’ Whitted said via text.
“Whitted said via text that he and his wife ‘are excited to embark on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to restore the Blair mansion to a single-family home.’
“Returning the mansion to residential use will bring to five the number of the seven remaining historical Lake Shore Drive mansions used as homes. The four in the 1200 block of the Drive are residential, and for the past several decades all three in the 1500 block have had institutional uses. The surgeons group also owns 1524, and 1530 has housed the Polish consulate since 1974. Together, the seven mansions make up a city landmark district declared in 1989.
“The mansion was designed by New York architecture firm McKim Mead & White and built for Edward Tyler Blair and Ruby McCormick Blair. He was the son of an early Chicago hardware merchant, and she was a niece of Cyrus McCormick, inventor of the mechanical reaper. Their son William founded what’s now Chicago-based financial services firm William Blair.
“McKim Mead & White designed only a few buildings in Chicago. They include two for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition that were later demolished and two mansions within a few blocks of 1516: the Patterson-McCormick mansion on Astor Street, which is now condos, and the Bryan and Helen Lathrop mansion, now the home of the Fortnightly Club, a women’s group.
“In the early 1950s, Chicago surgeon Max Thorek, a founder of the Geneva-based International College of Surgeons, bought the mansions at 1516 and 1524 N. Lake Shore Drive and gave them to the society for its headquarters and museum. The larger mansion at 1524, where the museum is, remains in the hands of the surgeons group, although it was briefly offered for sale as a $22 million package deal with 1516 a few years ago. In their statement, Downham and Rebel said the interconnected surgeons groups will retain 1524 as their headquarters.” (Rodkin, Crain’s Chicago Business, 7/2/21)
Mansion to become a home again on Lake Shore Drive; The buyers who paid $4.25 million today will make a single-family residence out of the property, which since 1951 has been one of a pair housing the International College of Surgeons and its museum, Dennis Rodkin, Crain’s Chicago Business, 7/2/21