Even though museums, libraries, archives, etc. are currently closed throughout the majority of the world because of the Coronavirus, there are other ways to still visit historic places. Here are 5 historically noteworthy homes that are never open to the public anyway, but that you can drive and see from the outside if you are in the Chicago area. By no means is this a comprehensive list.
1. Michael Jordan’s Home
Michael Jordan, one of the greatest basketball players of all time, lived in Highland Park, a northern suburb of Chicago, when he played basketball for the Chicago Bulls. He lived there from 1995 to 2006. Since 2012, his house has been on the market. It was originally on the market for $29 million. However, the price has been reduced, so if you have $14,855,000, you can try purchasing it. The home includes an indoor basketball court, gym, and swimming pool. If not, you can at least drive past the home and admire the gate, which still has the number 23 on it (Michael Jordan’s jersey number). Unfortunately, you will not have much success catching a glimpse of the house, because it is hidden behind evergreen trees. As of March, 2020, the home is currently listed on Zillow: https://www.zillow.com/homedetails/2700-Point-Dr-Highland-Park-IL-60035/4902463_zpid/
2. Home Alone House
The 1990 film Home Alone has now become a Christmas classic. Except for the upstairs scenes, which were recreated in a gymnasium, a home in Winnetka, Illinois (another northern suburb of Chicago), was the set for a large portion of the film. It is now a private home, and the only one in the neighborhood with a “No Trespassing” sign. You can see other parts of Winnetka in the film, as well as buildings from the neighboring suburbs of Wilmette and Highland Park. This is because the film’s writer and producer, John Hughes, grew up in Northbrook, Illinois, which is nearby, making him familiar with Chicago’s suburbs. Hughes used the northern Chicago suburbs as settings for several of his other films as well, such as Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986). Hughes is buried in the northern suburb of Lake Forest.
3. F. Scott Fitzgerald-Inspired Home
Speaking of Lake Forest, there is an interesting home located there. In 1915 and 1916, the future American author, F. Scott Fitzgerald visited Lake Forest. He had a love interested who lived there, Ginerva King, the daughter of a wealthy family. Unfortunately for Fitzgerald, Ginerva married someone else. However, many speculate that she helped inspire parts of the plot for his first book, This Side of Paradise (1920), as well as for his most famous book, The Great Gatsby (1925). After being abandoned for years, new owners are currently attempting to restore this mansion to its former glory.
4. Marx Brothers Home
Many may not know it, but the early twentieth century comedians, the Marx Brothers, lived in Chicago for a time. However, it was in the 1910s, before they became famous through their movies. The entire family lived there, not just the three most famous brothers, known as Groucho, Chico, and Harpo. This Jewish family lived in what was then a Jewish neighborhood in the South Side of Chicago, as can be attested by the Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church near their home, which used to be a synagogue.
5. Barack Obama’s Home
Former President Barack Obama taught law at the University of Chicago Law School from 1992 to 2004. Then, in 2005, he purchased a home not far from the University. That was also when he began to become more involved in politics. The Obamas still own their Chicago home, although they are not there often. A blockade still keeps cars away from his street, and a sign is posted in the front warning people that the Secret Service has the home under surveillance.
Sources and Further Reading
Holst, Amber. “A Presidential Neighborhood: The Obama Family Home in Hyde Park.” Enjoy Illinois, June 8, 2018. https://www.enjoyillinois.com/travel-illinois/obama-home-chicago-hyde-park/ (accessed October 30, 2019).
“The ‘Home Alone’ House for Sale in Winnetka, Illinois.” Hooked on Houses. https://hookedonhouses.net/2011/05/08/real-home-alone-house-winnetka-illinois/ (accessed October 30, 2019).
Klocksin, Scott. “Airball: Why is Michael Jordan’s Estate in Highland Park not Selling?” The Real Deal, May 3, 2018. https://therealdeal.com/chicago/2018/05/03/airball-michael-jordans-unsellable-highland-park-estate/ (accessed October 30, 2019).
Rodkin, Dennis. “Buyers Plan to Make ‘Gatsby’ House Great Again.” Crain’s Chicago Business, September 18, 2018. https://www.chicagobusiness.com/residential-real-estate/buyers-plan-make-gatsby-house-great-again (accessed October 30, 2019).