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Inside the Embattled Mansion that Crashed BuildingDetroit.Org

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[Photography by Chris and Michelle Gerard]

We've seen plenty of extraordinary architecture auctioned off in recent weeks, but 115 Chicago is indisputably the crown jewel. Last week, bidding on the Boston-Edison mansion reached $135K before web traffic crashed BuildingDetroit.org, invalidating the auction. The would-be winner is now threatening to sue.
With the auction rescheduled for Friday, it's time to peek inside this boarded-up beast. On paper it sounds like an unremarkable 3,000-square-foot house from 1911. In person, it's an entirely different situation.

The craziness of 115 Chicago starts with its front porch, which is somewhere between a living room and a studio apartment in size. Inside, you're immediately confronted by a grand staircase. Wood paneling, elegant moldings, and leaded glass are so common that it's easy to forget that the building is residential at all. Imagine committing life's everyday indignities—stumbling around in pajamas, microwaving leftovers, belching—in rooms like these. It's terrifying.

Things get more familiar up the staircase. Four large rooms, large windows, and large closets are on the second floor. The third floor is wide-open and has its own full bathroom. For the most part, the house is surprisingly intact. Original doors, knobs, light switches, and other details have held on. The bathrooms are the big exception. No signs of Pewabic tile here.

Bringing everything up to code will be a monumental challenge. It looks like scrappers had a few solid days inside—enough to toss the radiators around and destroy the bathrooms, but not enough to begin amputating architecture. Much of the damage stems from neglect. If it still looks this good after years of vacancy, it's scary knowing how it could look with a little attention.
· Listing: 115 Chicago Blvd [Building Detroit]