Take a quick video walk around these two lakefront properties

List price: $11.5 million
Sale Price: $9.71 million

List price: $10.75 million
Sale Price: $9 million

The Properties: July started off with a bang on the North Shore, and that’s not a reference to the many fireworks displays hosted by towns and country clubs. Two separate lakefront mansions sold for stratospheric prices: on July 1st, a Kenilworth estate went for $9,710,913, and two days later, one in Wilmette went for $9 million.

The Kenilworth property is a veritable Lake Michigan resort, complete with 2.2 acres of gardened grounds, a tennis court and tennis house, and an indoor pool. Situated at the end of a private lane off Sheridan Road, the 13-room mansion, built in the 1920s in an English country style, has been added onto—most notably with a very long room for the pool that parallels the shoreline—creating a secluded entry courtyard through which a gravel path leads to the main entryway.

The house was listed for sale in January by the estate of William Graham, who had lived there for more than 30 years before his death in January 2006 at age 94. Graham headed the Deerfield medical company Baxter International—as CEO from 1953 to 1980, and as chairman from 1971 to 1985. Graham was a generous philanthropist who gave millions to the University of Chicago, the Lyric Opera, Xavier University, and other organizations. “It’s always been a question of what I can do to make the best contribution,” he told me in an interview in 1997.

 I was not able to reach anyone connected with Graham’s estate about the sale. The agent who sold the property, Coldwell Banker’s Barbara Mawicke, would say only that the buyers (whom she would not identify) have not expressed any intent to subdivide the land.

The Wilmette mansion is a sumptuous 1939 stone structure on more than an acre of shoreline property behind stone and iron gates on a short street of mansions. The 15-room house has views of the lake from almost every room and has been renovated and updated since July 2000. That’s when the present sellers, Dennis and Diane Field, bought the place, for $4.75 million, from the heirs of Louis and Bobbe Goldblatt (of the department store family), who had owned the estate since 1967. At the time, Diane Field told me she planned comprehensive renovations, which would include creating living and entertaining space in the cavernous basement, re-positioning the kitchen to be central to the flow of the rooms, and opening up the dated, blocky floor plan.

Field did not respond to my phone calls about the latest sale, for which she was both seller (with her husband) and agent. But the listing sheet for the property that she distributed indicates that while they owned the estate, the Fields upgraded the house’s plumbing, mechanical, and electrical systems, installed an elevator, and renovated the kitchen and six-plus bathrooms.

Price Points: These are the highest prices paid for homes in the Chicago area since the $11-million sale of a Gold Coast mansion on Lake Shore Drive 16 months ago. (Two other North Shore estates, in Lake Bluff and Highland Park, were sold in the interim, for $16 million and $17.6 million, but they were both bought by a developer who plans to subdivide the land, so I have excluded them from the ranks of home sales.) Do these tandem super-luxury sales signal a revival of the local real-estate market? “I doubt it,” says Julie Deutsch, a prominent North Shore agent for Coldwell Banker with many high-end sales in her portfolio. “We still have a lot of multimillion-dollar homes that have been on the market a long time.” These two sales, she said, are good news, but “they don’t indicate that anything is changing right now.” Neither buyer has yet been identified in public records.

Kenilworth Listing Agent: Barbara Mawicke of Coldwell Banker, 847-446-4500
Wilmette Listing Agent: Diane Field of Coldwell Banker, 847-446-4000