Watch the video in which architect Frederick Phillips tells you how and why he built this home for his mother, taking advantage of the beautiful grounds and history. Click here for a larger version
See more photos in the gallery below.
Sale Price: $1,300,000
The Property: The architect Frederick Phillips designed this simple but striking house in 2000 for his widowed, 80-something mother, Katherine Bennett, who had lived nearby in a renovated 19th-century barn for four decades. “She only needed a few rooms,” says Phillips, “but she had always cherished her views of the woods around her.” Phillips designed a house that put all his mother’s needs—kitchen, living and dining room, bedroom, bathroom, and a big deck—on the second floor, with windows all around and elevator access from the drive-up foyer on the ground floor. In addition, there are two guest bedrooms in a perpendicular wing that appears to stand on stilts over the rest of the house.
The house and grounds have a long and rich history. Here, in 1895, the noted architect Henry Ives Cobb, assisted by the landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, designed a house and barn for the Lake Forest dairy farm of the Chicago attorney and banker David Jones. Jones’s daughter married Edward Bennett, the Chicago architect who designed the Michigan Avenue Bridge and Buckingham Fountain and coauthored the 1909 Plan of Chicago with Daniel Burnham. In 1916, Bennett designed a French-style mansion for his family elsewhere on the property, at the southwest corner of Green Bay and Deerpath roads. Bennett’s son, also named Edward, was Frederick Phillips’ stepfather. In the 1960s, the junior Bennett and his wife, Katherine, redesigned the 1895 barn as their home, giving it a minimalist interior. On nearby land once owned by the family, the inventive architect I. W. Colburn designed a dramatic, earth-hugging house.
Phillips, who is also the architect and developer behind Deerpath Farm—an eco-friendly subdivision on 200 acres of Bennett family property west of Lake Forest, in Mettawa—designed the house for his mother as a conscious if contemporary return to the rural character of the Jones dairy farm. The zinc-coated copper roof and the western red cedar siding enclose spaces that are airy and full of natural light. The interior walls are all crisp white, punctuated by natural wood window and door trim.
Because of her declining health, Katherine Bennett was not able to move into the house. Phillips and his brother originally put the house on the market four years ago. “The developers circled like vultures,” Phillips says today. “To them, that is not a big enough house for the land.” (The house’s lot is an acre and a half.) The family then got protective covenants enacted so the house could not be demolished.
Price Points: When the family first listed the house in 2004, it had an asking price of $2.6 million. Once they got the protective covenants, they cut the price to $2 million, an acknowledgement that the land, in a historic district at the heart of Lake Forest, was worth more without the house than with it. At one point, Phillips says, a buyer was willing to pay $1.8 million—until it was determined that the buyer had not been clearly informed that the house was protected. That buyer left. Last June, they cut the asking price to $1,599,000, and in February a buyer struck a deal to pay $1.3 million. The sale closed March 11th; the buyers are not yet identified in public records. Phillips is now designing an addition for them in the style of the house.
Listing Agent: Tracy Wurster of Koenig & Strey GMAC, (847) 234-8400
Photos by Barbara Karant