Old School Meets Hi-Tech at Xfinity Dinner at Renovated Logan Square Mansion

The 1907 Ryan Mansion is located in Chicago's
Logan Square neighborhood
Recently I got a chance to attend a very cool event - part dinner, part technology, part history and architecture with awesome hospitality among wonderful people. It was a dinner party in a historic Logan Square mansion in partnership with Xfinity as they highlighted all of their high-tech home products - cable, internet, home security and more.

The 8,000 square-foot Ryan Mansion was built in 1907, designed by architect John Ahlschalger and it was the first home built on the block. It was modeled after an Irish castle that owners Michael and Anna Ryan remembered from their homeland.

One really interesting feature about this home, that is completely modern and high-tech while preserving some beautiful historic elements, is that is was never designed a single family home. It originally was built as a three-flat for the Ryans and their daughters. Today it serves a single family home. 

An introduction at the grand staircase of the Ryan Masion.
Owner Stacey Ballis moved into one of the units in the early 1990s and 20 years later she bought the entire building and set upon a five-year renovation project to convert it into home for herself and her husband, Bill Thurmond.

We learned about many of the technology features in the home related to internet,
cable,  temperature control, security and more.

So as the renovations began, the goal was to preserve as much as possible of the original woodwork and they were able to retain about 95% or the original wood and then the remainder was replicated. All of the windows, except those in the basement are also original. 

So much beautiful original woodwork can be found in the home,
built in 1907 in Chicago's Logan Square neighborhood.
The home features a nice blend of old and new in the furnishings, but there's nothing old school about the technology in the building. The couple spends much of their time working from home and they needed to have reliable and quick wi-fi, so the renovations accounted for that. From the beginning Stacey worked with Xfinity in creating state-of-the-art features in this century-plus building.

The home so nicely meshes the old (like this stunning chandelier)
with the new.
Our tour included three of the four floors where we learned about xFi Pods that help ensure equal coverage throughout the house, the temperature and security features that they can monitor from their mobile devices and a water sensor in the basement to alert them if seepage occurs.

On our tour we explored the many guest bedrooms, the luxurious bathrooms, one of the two kitchens and the basement media room where I learned a few new tricks to use on my Xfinity remote. I never thought beyond giving it a voice command to change the channel or record a show, but I learned it can do much more - you can search for broad or specific topics using the voice command, resume a show you started watching or ask it to pull up news in certain location. I never knew I could do so much with it and look forward to testing it out to see what else I can command it to do to make viewing easier.

Fun fact: These portraits are not ancestors of the owners - they are just
historic photographs they picked up that seemed in place along the
grand staircase in the home.

One of the guest bedrooms.
One of the home's guest bedrooms.

Second floor sitting area.
One of my favorite parts of this amazing home was the second floor kitchen. Stacey is an author and food writer who does a lot of cooking and she designed this kitchen to meet her needs, setting up more in the manner of a commercial kitchen than a residential one. The main cooking area has a lot of counter space and room to work and besides the oven, stovetop, warmers and other kitchen accessories, it even has a chicken rotisserie. Other other side of the room is a second area that is dedicated to baking. There's a separate spice closet and also a kitchen library that is loaded with cookbooks. It's definitely paradise for any foodie who enjoys cooking.
The baking area in one of the kitchens.

The kitchen library.

The spice closet.

Main cooking area of the second-floor kitchen.
The home and the tour were fascinating and I was pretty sure the dinner would be equally as impressive and, of course, it was. The couple's favorite chef, Theo Gilbert, prepared a feast of Italian-inspired dishes - some pasta, seafood and chicken. 

Stacey and Bill selected their favorite dishes made by Gilbert for us to try. My favorite item of the evening was an appetizer that was sort of like small bites of a spinach soufflĂ© that was so light and airy and covered in a scrumptious, creamy sauce.

Many thanks to our hosts, Stacey and Bill, the execs from Xfinity who were there to greet us and answer questions and MJ Tam from Chicagonista who reached out and rounded up a select group of tech and foodie bloggers and influencers. I was so honored to be included. Read more about the renovation project and results on Stacey's blog at staceyballis.com.