The 57-year-old midcentury modern home at 370 Beech Street in Highland Park, Illinois is instantly recognizable to many 1980s survivors and fans of John Hughes movies as Cameron’s house from "Ferris Bueller’s Day Off." By now, it’s also known from popping up in the media, as it’s been on the market for over a year.
But this 4-bedroom, 4-bath home has been notable since long before the ’80s. Designed in 1953 by A. James Speyer and David Haid, the house is now heralded as "architecturally significant." With this significance, and the added cultural cachet of being featured in the movie, comes a price tag: the house is currently listed at a reduced price of $1,650,000. So how’s that market for designer midcentury homes looking lately?
“We have a very bad market in this price range,” says the property’s Realtor, Meladee Hughes (no relation to writer/director John Hughes). “This is a midcentury modern home that is not always what all the young people want—it doesn’t have the bathrooms and kitchens with stainless steel—well, it does have some of the original stainless—but the young people want stone, they want this and that [updated features].”
“Some of the buyers that we’ve had have all wanted to preserve it, but other people walk in and they say, ‘Oh my God, I have to put in a new kitchen, a new bath…’ "
Hughes notes that the house is spacious at approximately 4,000 square feet, but there’s also the matter of how the space is used, which doesn’t work for all buyers. A lot of that space is taken up by the main room, so when a family comes in with 2 or 3 children, by today’s standards it doesn’t work. She explains that currently the bedrooms are configured as two at 20 x 20 feet each. The house originally had 5 bedrooms plus a den, and all the steel constructed walls are removable, so when the children of the original occupants left, they converted the four bedrooms into two larger bedrooms.
There was a buyer ready to go, laments Hughes, but they were thwarted when a storm caused damage to the roof and water damage inside last August. “We’re fighting with the insurance company ever since—which is standard—and they are being very difficult to deal with. Because of that, the offer from the buyer was put on hold."