Serenity, beauty, and love: those were the virtues that Jon Butcher and wife Missy aimed to capture when they set out to build their dream home in the mid-1990s. It was an otherworldly vision — especially on 26 acres of flat Midwestern land in St. Charles. To execute it, the couple enlisted landscape architect Hoichi Kurisu, known for designing dramatic Japanese gardens. The result was a lush reprieve from the bustle of day-to-day life.
Butcher, who currently serves as chairman of Precious Moments, the statuette and giftware business started by his late father in 1978, uses his 17,000-square-foot home at 37W756 Woodgate Road as both a private residence and a corporate retreat for his various businesses. One of those is Lifebook, a life-coaching upstart that makes leather-bound books of clients' goals and photographs. The gist:
Butcher says themes of water and fire were key to achieving the healing aesthetic he wanted in his home. Through the front entry, sliding glass doors open to an atrium of plants, boulders, a fire pit, and a waterfall. Further back is an indoor pool and hot tub.
“The house was built as an oasis from the crazy modern world,” Butcher says. “I lived in that garden for 22 years. It was the best investment we ever made.”
Completed in 1996, the Butchers' house has gotten attention for its centralized computer system, which controls everything from lighting to the home's fireplaces and waterfalls. Because the house is so large (and its interior so complex), the system is pretty much essential, Butcher says; without it, it would “take you 30 minutes to turn off every light before going to bed.”
The system was so advanced at the time of its completion that Butcher was invited onto The Oprah Winfrey Show to discuss it.
Given the home's highly personalized design, the listing presents a unique challenge for agents Anne Kearns and Robin Phelps of @properties. Similar homes — notably Michael Jordan’s mansion in Highland Park — have been notoriously slow to sell. Rather than waiting for a buyer to show up, the team is actively seeking the right match for the home. They envision somebody with a life similar to Butcher's — a businessperson with a hectic schedule seeking a place to relax.
"When the family built this home, it cost them $2.5 million just to put in the landscaping,” Kearns says.
Butcher says that despite the home's complexities, it was the perfect place to raise their four children and host their grandchildren. He adds that, before they listed the home, he and Missy contemplated a number of ways to repurpose it, including as a corporate retreat or wellness center. But ultimately, they decided, “we don’t need another business.”
The Butchers previously owned the top-floor penthouse at the Contemporaine in River North, which they sold in May of 2013 for $2.4 million. For their sprawling St. Charles mansion, they're seeking a similar price: The home listed earlier this month for $2.49 million.