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List Price: $2.8 million
The Property: In the late 1930s, the architect David Adler designed a pair of servants’ cottages that flanked the back entrance to the Lake Forest estate of Lola Armour. He used nearly as much detail on the cottages as he had on the huge main house, nearly a quarter of a mile away.
Decades later, the estate was divided up, and the two little cottages that were joined by a large wooden gate became separate homes. Because it had been the chauffeur’s cottage, one of the cottages had some advantages: it had a lavish five-car garage adjacent and, nearby, a brick garden wall and stairs that led down to what had been the estate’s gardens and pond.
Its disadvantage was its size: it was a modest five-room cottage. It was later combined with the garage and, after Howard Alport bought the property in 2005, underwent a meticulous renovation by the architect Garret Eakin. Among other things, Eakin connected the garage and the cottage with an octagonal kitchen that Alport says is largely a copy of an Adler structure on another estate. As you will see in today’s video, the three components—cottage, connector, and garage—now make up a home that feels like something that Adler might have built this year.
With its original metal trusses supporting a high ceiling, the garage feels like a broad and airy urban loft. Eakin cleverly maintained the spaciousness while breaking the expanse down to more livable chunks. The dining area—where the old car mechanic’s lift still stood when Alport moved in—and living room are separated from the master bedroom by what appear to be large pieces of wooden furniture but are in fact fixed-in-place cabinets. They and the glass panels tucked into the trusses overhead make a privacy wall for the bedroom without appearing to. The old garage doors along one wall were replaced with French doors; they open onto what would have been a car turnaround but is now a gravel courtyard.
Original Adler features, such as the glazed-blue brick walls and the small arched windows above the garage doors, give this wing of the house a refined attitude. Eakin echoed the window shape in the master bath’s mirrors and cabinetry, and he followed Adler’s affinity for delft tile on fireplace surrounds and the kitchen island.
The old cottage now contains a homey family room, an office, and two upstairs bedrooms, all still showing the knotty pine trim that Adler put there. In between is the kitchen, its arched blue ceiling and numerous windows making it feel, Alport says, “like a little café.” In warmer weather, it opens up to the gravel court.
The entire project took more than two years to complete, and in 2008 it received a historic preservation award. Adler, a noted Francophile, might have pronounced the present incarnation of the little cottage “très beau.”
Price Points: This is one of 65 homes on the market in Lake Forest with prices of $2 million and up.