List Price: $3.5 million
The Property: As the father of a teenager, I have to admire Milt and Sylvia Clow’s approach to living with adolescents. In the early 1940s, the Lake Forest couple built one house for themselves and a separate house across the driveway for their two teenagers. “Milt and Sylvia were very formal, so their house was formal,” says Paul Bergman, a Lake Forester whose parents were friendly with the Clow family. “The children’s house was a lot less formal—but the kids had to dress formally every night for dinner at their parents’ house.”
Known together as the Twin Doors estate, the two houses are in the “country Georgian” style—that is, they have the formal details of a Georgian but are mainly laid out like one-story ranch houses. They were designed by Stanley Anderson (for whom Bergman’s father worked), the architect of many Lake Forest homes, as well as Lake Forest High School. The two houses face each other across a wide court at the end of a gated driveway on a 3.7-acre lot.
The parents’ house, on the west, has a formal entry hall that leads to a dining room, the home’s most historically intact room. It has wide-plank floors, a large fireplace, wood trim, and a floral mural on the walls that was painted (and later restored) by students at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, according to the home’s selling agent, Marsha Noble. There is a very large living room with its original paneling and fireplace, a library, and two master suites: the original on the main floor, which encompasses a large, glassed-in sitting room, and a second one upstairs, where several former servants’ rooms were combined. In all, the main house has nine bedrooms. Its kitchen, still in the original configuration and designed to be used only by servants, needs to be renovated.
The children’s house, on the east, originally had no kitchen, although one was later installed. The centerpiece of this house is a two-story lodge-style room with a soaring chimney, wood paneling, a bar, and a loft. We couldn’t photograph that room because boxes and furniture are stored in there, but Bergman says that the Clow kids filled it with “oars and kayaks and squash rackets and duck decoys and all those things they had in the forties.” This house also has a living room with a beamed ceiling, a long sunroom, and four bedrooms.
There is a third house on the property as well, a little two-bedroom servants’ cottage tucked downhill from the main houses. Mrs. William B. Davies, the estate’s seller, bought the estate from the Clows in the early 1950s. Over the years, the compound has housed parents and grandparents, parents and adult children, and other combinations, Noble says. Davies has moved to a smaller home and wants to sell the property as a whole, not break it up.
Price Points: The property was initially listed in June 2009, for $3.9 million; the price was cut about a year later. The buyer will likely want to install air conditioning and do other renovations, including modernizing the kitchen in the parents’ house and enlarging the one in the children’s house.