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New Homes Rise on a Lake Forest Property That Inspired ‘The Great Gatsby’

Westleigh Farms will be on 47 acres of an estate that once belonged to the family that introduced F. Scott Fitzgerald to the upper crust—and will neighbor older buildings by David Adler and Howard Van Doren Shaw.

The homes start at $1.099 million with a $495 monthly association fee—but they’re maintenance-free.   Photo: North Shore Builders

A North Shore property that is said to have been an inspiration for the iconic American novel The Great Gatsby is well on its way to being redeveloped with a series of brand new single family homes. The new development, titled Westleigh Farms, is being built on a former Lake Forest estate that spans 47 acres and includes existing structures from notable Chicago-area architects David Adler and Howard Van Doren Shaw.

During the early 20th Century, the property belonged to wealthy stockbroker Charles Garfield King and his family. A courtship between King’s daughter, Ginevra, and a young F. Scott Fitzgerald introduced the budding author not only to the family, but the world of America’s exclusive upper class. The rest is history.

Developer North Shore Builders formally acquired the property last year via a $9 million purchase (which was one of the priciest sales in the Chicago metro area in 2017). The subdivision was approved by the city of Lake Forest much earlier however, allowing the developer to split the property up into 34 separate lots. As a part of the agreement, North Shore Builders was asked to sell the Van Doren Shaw–designed Colonial mansion on South Ridge Road.

Photo: North Shore Builders

According to sales and marketing team, led by David Wolf of On Collaborative, the property is currently under contract to a preservation-minded buyer who plans to renovate the house as a primary residence.

Sales are formally underway on the new houses for the site. According to Wolf, North Shore Builders is constructing 26 new homes and will sell the eight remaining lots to buyers who prefer to build on their own. There are three different home models being offered by North Shore Builders ranging in size and cost with all variations featuring a different take on the farmhouse aesthetic. The base price for one of the new properties is $1.099 million.

“What the developers really wanted to do was restore the properties that needed to be restored and build houses that compliment the landscape,” Wolf says regarding the subdivision’s theme. “There’s a lot of demand for something like this in the North Shore.”

The homes built in the new planned community will be maintenance-free, Wolf adds. A monthly association fee of $495 will cover the subdivision’s landscaping and allow residents access to common amenities such as the community clubhouse—a David Adler–designed residence originally designed to house butlers and groundskeepers. The estate’s old stables designed by Howard Van Doren Shaw will be renovated and repurposed as a maintenance shed and storage.

The first wave of new homes are expected to be delivered later this year.

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