List Price: $2.295 million
Sale Price: $2.1 million
The Property: Overlooking Lake Michigan from atop a wooded bluff, this Lake Forest home combines architectural elements from the late-19th and mid-20th centuries. The 2.2-acre lot is a fragment of the 80-acre Walden estate, which was developed in the 1890s by Cyrus McCormick Jr. and his wife, Harriet. Cyrus, whose father founded the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company, transformed that enterprise into International Harvester. Harriet was an advocate for better working conditions for workers in the McCormick plant and for the welfare of women and children.
In 1896, the architect Jarvis Hunt, who had designed the McCormicks’ house, crafted a formal balustraded terrace above Lake Michigan at the southeastern edge of the estate. It evoked the Mediterranean splendor of Ravello, Italy, which the McCormicks had visited.
Walden was later broken up, and in 1960, the modernist architect John Black Lee designed a home for his mother, Lydia Lee, next to the terrace. Although the home’s brick façade is a bit forbidding, the listing photos showed walls of windows and several skylights that looked out onto the surrounding trees and lake vistas.
The Hunt terrace and the Lee house “create a neat point-counterpoint,” says Jean Royster, the Coldwell Banker agent who represented the home in a sale that closed November 21. The seller, Priscilla Billington, and her late husband, William, were only the home’s second owners. According to the Cook County Recorder of Deeds, they bought it from Lee in 1978 for $465,000. The Billingtons added to the house twice, Royster says, both times taking care to enhance the home’s transparency with walls of glass.
The three-bedroom home has about 4,000 square feet of space, and stairs lead down from the bluff to a private 265-foot-wide beach. The buyers are not yet identified in public records.
Price Points: Another remnant of Walden, its teahouse, sold last year for $1.05 million. It’s about a mile away from today’s property. A few other structures from the Walden estate remain, including a picturesque bridge and the original stables, which have been converted to a private home. Just south of Walden was Villa Turicum, the estate of Cyrus McCormick’s brother, Harold; a house whose property contains some relics of that estate was sold in April 2010 for $4.5 million.
PHOTOGRAPHY: © JOHN ECKERT PHOTOGRAPHY