List Price: $1.695 million
The Property: Back in 1984, when Pete and Barbara Rosi went looking for a tranquil country residence in Kane County, they fell in love with a hillside home outside St. Charles that had been built in 1932 as a getaway for a Chicago family. Situated 58 feet above its own private lake, and with tall oaks hanging overhead, the house was their ideal.

Or it would have been, had it not “smelled like a kennel inside,” as Pete recalls, and if the 32 wooded acres had not been so overgrown that “you couldn’t walk down to the lake,” Barbara says. Nevertheless, they spotted potential, and over the course of the next five years, they brought the whole place back. They had the thickets of brush cleared, planted 1,000 new trees, and completely rebuilt the house after considering demolition. “We are fans of the 1930s, and we wanted the house to feel like it might have been F. Scott Fitzgerald’s summer home,” Pete says.

Except for the structure of the outer walls and an arched ceiling in the front hall, everything is new—from the lannon stone on the exterior to the antique light fixture in the dining room. It was, the Rosis say, a painstaking project. “The moral of the story is, don’t restore anything unless Abraham Lincoln slept there,” Pete says.

The house is now either a three- or a four-bedroom home, depending on how certain rooms are used. Right now, the study (a possible bedroom), living room, and master suite line up along the south side of the house, with views down to the lake. A large double-level terrace with a broad fountain (empty in my wintertime photos) overlooks a lawn that rolls down toward the lake—a great setting for the cotillions and other parties that the Rosis say the original owners use to throw.

In the late 1990s, the Rosis subdivided the property; their home now stands on a little more than two acres. They and the residents of nine new homes (eight of them sold) in what’s now known as the Oak Shadows subdivision share the lake, where, when I was there, a large flock of geese roamed the ice.

Price Points: The Rosis originally listed the home for $2.95 million, with a different real-estate agent. Their current agent, Lynn Purcell, took over in September and cut the price to $1.695 million.

Listing Agent: Lynn Purcell of Baird & Warner; 630-262-7136 or