An Armour Mansion in Lake Forest
List Price: $5 million
The Property: This classically styled 12-room mansion on a bluff in Lake Forest that overlooks Lake Michigan has its fine points, and I’ll get to them. But first, a nod to its former resident, the formidable Sarah Wood Armour, who was a key supporter of the Lyric Opera of Chicago for over five decades and the daughter of Robert Wood, who helped build both the Panama Canal and Sears, Roebuck & Co. Mrs. Armour bought the house in 1980 with her husband, the philanthropist and businessman Andrew W. Armour III of the meatpacking family. He died in 1991, and she died last year.
When the Armours bought the house, it was a one-story structure designed in 1958 by the Lake Forest architect Stanley Anderson. They commissioned the New York architect Charles Thompson to add a second floor. Thompson capped the new larger façade with an exaggerated pediment that played off one of the home’s original details—the large classical pediments above several interior doors—and helped the house, though built in stages several decades apart, feel like one piece.
The home has a stately presence, from the formal entrance hall and spacious living room with a large chandelier and an adjacent library, through the curving staircase, and on to the four-room, two-bathroom master suite. But it’s not cold or forbidding, thanks in part to the deep pastel color scheme: warm pink in the living room, mint green in the dining room, and peach in the master suite. A broad, glassed-in gallery across the back of the living room admits ample daylight and fantastic views across the grounds to Lake Michigan. (Here are pictures of the property, including the swimming pool, in a greener season than our snow-blanketed photos and video.)
Aside from the master bedroom suite, there is just one other family bedroom on the second floor and another, the original master bedroom, on the first floor. The estate’s selling agent, Eleanor Dowling, explains that the one-story garage wing was engineered to support the weight of a multibedroom addition there. It would also be possible to divide off part of the master suite as a separate bedroom.
The kitchen, built for use by servants, has not been updated, but it is very large and could easily be redone as a combined kitchen/family room. The basement, too, could be redone with a playroom, a home gym, and other contemporary amenities.
Price Points: The home stands on 2.4 landscaped acres, with a 240-foot-wide private beach 240 feet wide. The Armours also owned the two-acre lot next door, which they kept in a natural but well-tended state. That property is being sold separately, with an asking price of $4 million.
Listing Agent: Eleanor Dowling of Koenig & Strey Real Living; 847-615-5070