Author of the nonfiction book “Chicago’s Historic Hyde Park,” Susan O’Connor Davis has long been enamored by architecture, interior design and history. “After the University of Chicago Press published my book and the speaking engagements slowed down, I began to wonder what I could do with the mountain of information I had amassed over seven years of writing,” Davis says. “Although I wrote the book mainly from an urban development point of view, one of the benefits of my research was gaining in-depth knowledge of the full intent of an architect’s or builder’s work. Because of this, real estate seemed like a natural offshoot.”
Originally a Chicago regional manager at Knoll International, Davis’s business skills — along with the detailed knowledge she acquired while researching and writing her book — provided a strong foundation for her success in real estate. “The book allowed me to become established relatively quickly,” she says. “People recognize what it means to have the University of Chicago publish your work. The process is rigorous, and it taught me a great deal.”
Focusing primarily on Hyde Park and Kenwood, Davis’ keen understanding of those neighborhoods has given her a significant advantage. “Real estate is so site-specific,” Davis says. “Here, not only is every block different, but the corner of every block varies, as does each individual structure. My clients appreciate the depth of knowledge, history and attention to detail that I provide throughout the entire process.”
Davis’ own home, designed by John Vinci, was the recipient of the American Institute of Architects’ Distinguished Building Award. Davis has also served on the University of Chicago Women’s Board and as a member of the board of the Smart Museum of Art and the Hyde Park Art Center. She is currently at work on another book, which will examine National Historic Landmarks in Illinois.