A Miniature Chateau in Highland Park
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List Price: $799,000
The Property: Although the North Shore has many grandly scaled chateaux, this Highland Park home demonstrates that grandeur can come in medium-size packages, too. All the architectural detail and lavish finishes of some of the area’s finer residences are tucked into an eight-room house designed to feel like a centuries-old home in France’s Brittany region.
From the birdhouses built into the stucco-and-beam exterior to a richly paneled living room, the house exudes a gracious hominess. A handsome metal handrail curves up the stairs and around the second-floor landing, wide-planked wood floors provide an old-country appeal, and a dining room with a beamed ceiling and large windows overlooks a big backyard.
The architect Ames Ross built the house in 1932 as part of a cluster of French-inspired homes he designed next to Highland Park’s Bob-O-Link Golf Club, where his father was president. For his own residence (today’s property), he was inspired by the ancestral home of his wife, Fernande (née Berdonneau). It’s a captivating house, designed to look like an authentic village home that developed over centuries; one section is stucco and beams, while the other is brick—as if the family had expanded a tiny cottage over the course of generations. Flanked by a wide lawn, a gravel driving court, and a big formal garden, it’s the quintessential architectural jewel box, not over the top, but finely featured and restrained.
The home has an updated kitchen less than a decade old that, while small, continues the elegance of the formal rooms. It’s laid out to take advantage of windows over the front yard and to fit everything into what must have originally been an awkward space (L-shaped and tight). Upstairs are four bedrooms, including a master—whose several windows are framed in formal Georgian woodwork—with its own small bathroom.
In the basement is a large family room with the home’s second fireplace. Out back, a gazebo has been enclosed as a warm-season sitting room; it could easily be finished for year-round use. Either way, it’s a good spot from which to look out on the mock-antique façade, the formal plantings (which include a rose garden), and the birds making homes in the spaces reserved for them among the beams.
Price Points: Greg Perry bought the house in 2009 for $819,000. He later died, and his estate listed the house for sale in mid-January. A few doors away, another home by Ames Ross is also for sale, at $825,000.
Disclosure: Jamie Roth and I are friends, though my admiration for this home—it was one of the first houses I fell in love with when I moved to Highland Park 13 years ago—predates our friendship.