One of the quirkiest houses on the North Shore—with light fixtures carved from wooden salad bowls, a Western-themed mural above the living room, and a distinctly offbeat fence—came back on the market this month, five years after it went up for sale for the first time since it was built more than 90 years ago.
This time the sellers aren’t holding quite as tightly to the reins, imposing looser restrictions on what can be done with the Winnetka home’s eccentric flourishes. (You can see many of them, including a daffodil-shaped ceiling light and a downspout that used to pour water out the mouth of a concrete bear, in the video above, which I shot in 2009.)
And the sellers are asking considerably less for the house this time around $699,930. That’s 48 percent of 2007’s $1.45 million asking price. It’s also a multiple of 18, which is lucky in the Jewish kabbalah and thus an auspicious number for Lola Moonfrog, the granddaughter of the home’s original owner, says the listing agent, Howard Meyers of the Hudson Company. Moonfrog and others who inherited the property deeded it to the Pond Foundation in Santa Fe, New Mexico, which is selling the property.
When I first wrote about the house in 2009, Moonfrog insisted that most of the home’s details be kept intact. But now the house is protected by a set of easements granted to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which has spelled out in a seven-page draft document what a buyer can and can’t do to the house and grounds.
The mostly native plantings on the three-fifths of an acre can’t be uprooted to make room for a swimming pool or tennis court, “but the Trust would probably let you clear enough space for a swing set or a gazebo,” Meyers says. Expanding the kitchen and converting an attic to living space might be accepted, he says, but the home’s existing footprint can’t be expanded. “There are probably more restrictions than I would like, but there are less than originally, when essentially everything about the house was protected,” Meyers says.
Specific terms are up for negotiation between a buyer and the trust, but according to the draft I read, facets of the house that previously would have had to be kept entirely intact can now be stored or covered if they are first fully documented.
Among them are the 20-foot-tall mural, which depicts cattle and cowboys. It evokes life on the Texas ranch where the home’s original owner, the peace activist Lola Maverick Lloyd, grew up before moving to Winnetka as the wife of William Bross Lloyd, the millionaire cofounder of the Communist Party of the United States. (It was Lola’s grandfather, Samuel Maverick, who, after refusing to brand his cattle, sparked the use of the word “maverick” to mean an independent-minded person.)
After William and Lola divorced, she and the Swedish sculptor Charles Haag designed what is now a five-bedroom house for a corner lot just south of downtown Winnetka. The house was completed in 1920, and Lola—a founder, with Jane Addams, of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom—lived there until her death in 1944. Her youngest daughter, Georgia Lloyd-Berndt, also a peace activist and the mother of Lola Moonfrog, lived in the house until 1999.
Recent improvements to the property include mold remediation, cleaning up the landscaping, and rebuilding the ranch-style fence. All that, the loosened restrictions, and, most important, the greatly reduced price add up to what Meyers calls “a much better value proposition.”