It started just before midnight near Oak Avenue and Grove Street in Evanston.
The building was under renovation and The Chicago Tribune reports it was slated to become a clock and stained glass museum.
Firefighters spent an hour trying to put out the flames.
The damage is estimated at $800,000.
No one was hurt.
The building was once home to the Catholic Women's Club of Evanston.
The home's owner says he is going ahead with plans to build the museum.