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Find Old-World Beauty in a House That’s Not Actually Old

This Hinsdale home is inspired by 1900s English mansions—with a massive wine cellar that could belong in the 1700s instead.

743 McKinley Lane, Hinsdale   Photo: VHT Studios

Builder Dave Knecht has worked on his fair share of historic preservation projects as well as new construction homes. When he set out to build a house for his own family in the mid-2000s, he looked to blend the two disciplines. The result: a Hinsdale home that was built in 2006 but looks like it could date back a century more. “He built this house to look and feel like an early 1900s English-style mansion,” says Kris Berger of Berkshire Hathaway Koenig Rubloff, who is the agent on the just-under-$4-million listing.

Mansion, indeed. The six-bedroom, eight-bathroom home is expansive, but it’s also “warm and welcoming and doesn’t make you feel like you’re in this uncomfortably gigantic house,” Berger says. The home’s built-ins and wood paneling, including extraordinary reclaimed cypress wood, lend a historic feel, which trickles down to details you might not pick up on during a quick tour.

Take the celadon green exterior, for instance. It might seem simply like a refreshing contrast to more-expected red brick and stone. But, there’s a history lesson here. “[Knecht] did a historical study on colors of homes in the early 1900s,” Berger says. The two green shades can be traced back to that era.

Inside, the dining room has a coffered ceiling and a secret door that leads to a butler’s pantry, just like an early-20th century mansion might. The wine cellar on the lower level takes its inspiration from even earlier: the 200- and 300-year-old wine cellars in restaurants Knecht visited while traveling through Europe. The walk-in cellar’s stone walls, distressed timber-beamed ceiling with French terra cotta planks, and terra cotta floor tiles arranged in a herringbone pattern evoke old-world Italy more than Chicago suburbia in the mid-aughts.  

“You really and truly walk through and think, is this a totally rehabbed house or is this a house that is 100 years old?” Berger says. “But obviously it’s new and has every amenity.” Among them are a double-island kitchen—one butcher block, one marble—and a massive master suite that takes up the house’s southeast corner. In addition to the master bedroom and bathroom, you’ll find a fireplace, a 16-by-14-foot walk-in closet, and a private office, which Berger says is the ideal spot to stash papers you don’t want on display in the first-floor office.

The home sits on a landscaped 150-by-185-foot lot, which is larger than most Hinsdale lots but is common in this part of the ritzy town, known as the Woodlands. “The Woodlands is appealing because the lots are all an average of half an acre-plus, and there’s a little more room to spread out,” Berger says. The streets curve and wind as to not displace the 75 to 100-year-old trees that give the area its name.

“It kind of feels like you’re in a little secret part of Hinsdale,” Berger says. Or in the English countryside, perhaps?

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