Cushioned by blocks of brown and red brick homes, it’s easy for the pink and white house at Central Avenue and Ohio Street to stand out. It’s been this way for nearly three decades.
People have been fascinated with the house for years.
“You’ve never been on the West Side of Chicago until you’ve seen the pink and white house,” said Yolanda Anderson, who co-owns the house in the Austin neighborhood on the city’s West Side.
Her parents bought the five-bedroom home in the late ‘80s.
“The windows were beaten out; it was a horrible dark green and white,” Anderson said. “If you think it needs to be rehabbed now, it was terrible then.”
The story of why the house is pink is pretty simple. Anderson’s dad, a local reverend, painted over the “horrible dark green” with the color his wife and daughter requested —- rose pink.
“Pink’s the color of love, so I always liked it. It’s soft, it’s gentle, it’s kind,” Anderson said, “But it also has a strength in it.”
Anderson’s mom, Wilhelmina Anderson, who still lives in the house, said it was “always a standout.”
“People have always talked about it and wanted to come in and see it most of the times,” she said.
The pink theme didn’t stop with the house’s exterior. The first half of the downstairs boasts hot pink carpet, pink wallpapered walls with rose borders, and Victorian-style couches that are — you guessed it — also pink.
The attic? Pink. The toaster in the kitchen? Hot pink.
“We’ve heard things such as a Pepto Bismol, bubble gum, Barbie dream house, or strawberry shortcake,” Yolanda Anderson said.
There’s an occasional room in the house that’s themed differently — ocean blue, a lavender purple, or soda pop orange.
The house was built in 1894 and has survived two fires in the past decade and a half. Some of the walls are still covered in smoke stains.
Anderson said her dad did most of the upkeep, but after he fell ill, the house went into decline. He passed away last year.
“Our lives are embedded in the walls, in the floors and the doors, you know,” Anderson said, “But at the same time, it makes the healing process a little slower ‘cause we’re constantly in memory, we’re constantly reminded.”
Anderson said she was pursuing grants to fix the house, which has sagging floors and leaking ceilings, but struck out.
Although the house has seen better days, it still draws a lot of interest on the West Side.
Anderson said folks are so curious about the home that they’ve tried to walk in unannounced. Others have jiggled the front door to see if it was unlocked. One man, Anderson said, even livestreamed his attempt to find out who lived inside, going so far as to sit on the front porch and interview someone claiming to be the home’s owner.
Anderson is lighthearted about the situation and said she doesn’t think folks have ill intentions.
The house has been on the market for just over a week and is listed at $290,000. The Andersons and their real estate agent have already received numerous calls about the house, but mostly from people who just want to check it out.
Anderson said if it’s not torn down by a new owner, she hopes it can be transformed into an Airbnb or bed and breakfast inn.
The house will be featured in an exhibit next week at the Austin Town Hall showcasing interesting parts of Chicago.
Regardless of what happens, Anderson said she’s glad the house made a mark — on both her family and the neighborhood.
Lakeidra Chavis is a producer and reporter for WBEZ. Follow her on Twitter at @lakeidrachavis.