From Farmhouse to Refurbished Mansion in Glencoe

List Price: $7.5 million
The Property: Poised atop the lakeside bluff in Glencoe, this 18-room mansion has lots of rich, carefully restored period detail mingled with well-handled modernizations. A disused dumbwaiter shaft, for example, now holds the thicket of cables…

List Price: $7.5 million
The Property: Poised atop the lakeside bluff in Glencoe, this 18-room mansion has lots of rich, carefully restored period detail mingled with well-handled modernizations. A disused dumbwaiter shaft, for example, now holds the thicket of cables needed to carry today’s technology throughout the house. And a new elevator lift that glides down the 60-foot bluff to the boathouse and beach-level decks has the charm of an old-time funicular railway.

Originally built as a farmhouse in 1896, the house was later owned by a Chicago Tribune executive before it was bought in 1919 by Bruce MacLeish, a partner in the retail firm Carson Pirie and Scott who would later become its president and chairman of the board. With his wife, Elizabeth, MacLeish expanded the house to include 28 rooms and the colossal two-story south-facing colonnade. (Their son was the Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Archibald MacLeish.) The house remained in the MacLeish family until the 1980s.

In 2003, Ken and Katherine Weber bought and began renovating the house. “It was a really fun project,” Katherine Weber told me via e-mail. The family recently relocated to California (thus many rooms are empty or barely furnished, as you will see in the video), but her e-mail brims with enthusiasm for the renovation. The house “had the most magnificent bones and structure,” she wrote. “It cannot be recreated today.”

The blufftop setting informed many of the Webers’ choices. The master bedroom is white with orange accents, for instance, because, Weber wrote, “on waking, the sun will turn the whole room bright pink/orange.” The couple installed a multilevel deck at the beach in part to evoke the lavish parties of the MacLeishes’ era, but also to connect their children to the smoothed beach glass, the sound of the waves, and the secret tunnels in the rocks by the water. The property also has a swimming pool.

Inside, the 10,000-square-foot house has a series of formal rooms finished with elegant antique moldings, paneling, and flooring. There is a large lake-facing family room that opens onto a stone terrace and an outdoor kitchen, a new kitchen and breakfast room suite that replaced servants’ spaces, and nine bedrooms on the two upper floors. The main stairs, a graceful wooden oval, knit together the three main floors of the house. Weber and her agent, Monica Childs, both say the best view is from the top floor looking down through the oval, but I was more impressed by the second-floor landing, which, with the stairs winding below and overhead, offers a long view down a hallway toward the treetops and Lake Michigan.

Price Points: The Webers bought the house in 2003 for $3.825 million, according to the Cook County Recorder of Deeds. They then undertook a comprehensive restoration of the house and the ecologically fragile bluff. In 2009, they listed the house for sale at $8.999 million with another agent. The price dropped to $7.5 million when they moved the listing to Childs in late April.

Listing Agent: Monica Childs of @Properties; 847-751-0266 or monicachilds@atproperties.com

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