You know what sounds really nice in the COVID-19 era? A farm an hour outside the densely packed city where you can stress-garden on two acres of land. Exhibit A: the property at 3N369 LaFox Road in St. Charles, which is for sale by owner for $779,000. It consists of two houses (all the better for quarantining with your pod) and two outbuildings, plus an organic garden brimming with asparagus, beets, carrots, blackberries, mint, thyme … you get the idea.
Back in the first half of the 19th century, one of the area’s early European colonists, John Beatty, received a parcel of land for his military service, according to Penny Newkirk, who owns the property with her husband, David. Beatty built a barn there for his oxen in the 1830s.
Fast-forward to the late 1990s, when the Newkirks bought part of that parcel, which by then included not only the barn but also a farmhouse built in the 1860s and a coach house added in 1929. “I had already for years been teaching cooking, and I really felt that my students were losing touch with where their food came from,” Penny explains. “So I wanted to return to the farm, grow organically.”
The Newkirks gutted and restored the three-bedroom farmhouse. Its tiny kitchen became a pantry, and an addition now houses a bigger kitchen with an eating area, as well as a great room. Penny wanted to operate her cooking school at the farm, so the Newkirks also bought and moved an 1847 Greek Revival there from across town. It has two bedrooms of its own and an open kitchen with a vaulted ceiling. Between the two houses, the property has approximately 4,400 square feet of living space.
For about two decades, Penny’s commute consisted of walking across the driveway, from the farmhouse to the Greek Revival. She closed the school two years ago and says she and her husband are ready for something lower maintenance. “Now that we’re in our 70s, it’s time for us to downsize. It’s breaking my heart to do this, because I love it so much. But this is life.”