Whether it’s the idea of craftsmanship in our mass-produced world or getting in tune with nature, many of us have a romanticized view of living in a log cabin in the woods or near a lake. But log homes in the Chicagoland area? You’d be surprised to learn there are a number of them, whether in Barrington Hills or Highland Park or the five currently for sale below. Although this type of construction goes back to the Bronze Age, many Americans associate log cabins with the country’s humble origins (seven U.S. presidents were born in one). These homes can also take you back to childhood, when you may have played with Lincoln Logs, invented by architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s son John in Chicago in 1916. These log homes seem perfect as we get closer to the colder months of winter when we’re all stuck inside with cabin fever.
The former hunting lodge of one of Des Plaines’ most prominent citizens, Peter M. Hoffman hired a group of loggers from the Northwoods of Wisconsin to construct this building behind his main home between Lee and Center Streets in 1921. An interesting character (you can read more about him here), Hoffman was politically active serving as Cook County Coroner and later was the only Cook County Sheriff to serve prison time while still in office. Stepping through the screened front porch, you’ll be blown away by the two-story atrium with a dramatic staircase and authentic log details. Details galore here with the river rock fireplace and the flattened bark walls, which used to display Hoffman’s extensive taxidermy collection and hunting trophies. The log cabin has dual zoning so it can either be a private residence, commercial business, or both.
Outside of the historic town of Woodstock is this custom-built luxury four-bedroom, four-bathroom log home. Let’s be honest: Can you really call it a rustic log cabin when there is 6,400 square feet of living space? I mean, there’s a second kitchen and a hot tub. What stands out is the great room with its prominent vaulted wood ceilings, yellow pine plank floors, stone hearth fireplace, and the wooden staircase that goes up to a loft bedroom suite. The upper-level screened porch looks over the secluded and lush greenery of the three-acre property. And it’s located right next to the village of Bull Valley, which has stringent development restrictions, so this log house will always have a rural-like setting.
Just down the street from the Gold Pyramid House in Wadsworth is another unique residence. I would say this home is pretty authentic: its log construction is apparent everywhere, from the walls, ceilings, and even the staircase and the bathrooms. From the wraparound covered back porch, you can enjoy the six-acre property that includes a fully stocked pond with waterfall, as well as a six-stall horse barn with hay loft and fenced pasture. The home’s unincorporated zoning allows for not just horses, but chickens, bees, and more. Talk about getting back to nature.
Not far from the Wisconsin border is the village of Spring Grove where suburban sprawl hasn’t completely taken over just yet. Here you’ll find a nearly 70-year-old log cabin on the market for $168,000. Considering the Chain O’Lakes State Park is located nearby, this 1,000-square-foot, three-bedroom, one-bathroom home is a great option for someone looking to enjoy nature or simplify their life. It would make a delightful getaway as a secondary home or vacation rental.
If you’re looking to escape to another state, the shoreline resort community of New Buffalo, Michigan, is a popular choice in the second-home market, located just 70 miles from downtown Chicago. And when I say popular, I’m not kidding. During the height of the pandemic last year, home sales in Southwest Michigan were breaking records. This 1936 log cabin, full of knotty pine paneling and vintage charm, is situated on a wooded lot not far from the lake. The sunroom and screened-in porch are perfect for rest and relaxation.