It would have been around this time of year that Glencoe socialite Sadie Goodman would have closed up her “summer place” by the Lake Shore Country Club and settled into a luxury suite at The Drake Hotel for the holidays. Thanksgiving would soon give way to Christmas, where the glamourous confines of The Fountain Court, better known today as Palm Court, might have been the backdrop for photographs now locked into the vault of history.
By January, the lure of The Drake’s more modern, Art Deco equivalent in the Southwest—the iconic Arizona Biltmore—would lure Mrs. Goodman away from Chicago’s harsh winter, to be rested for a return to the stately English Country Manor in Glencoe that she and husband, Milton F. Goodman, commissioned local architect Ralph Varney to build for them in 1923.
It was a grand era in North Shore history, evocative of F. Scott Fitzgerald novels and cinematic visions of lavish garden parties cooled by Lake Michigan summer breezes. But like all good things, this too came to an end. Milton died in 1930, leaving Sadie and their three daughters to carry on in a rapidly changing world.
Mrs. Goodman kept the three-acre property on the third hole of the Lake Shore Country Club and lived there until 1966, when she sold it to the couple that has lived there ever since—recently listing the impeccably maintained home and adjoining gardens for more than $6.7 million.
The roaring 20s and days of millionaire golfers stashing precious Prohibition liquor at the Lake Shore Country Club (as chronicled in a 1922 article in the Chicago Tribune about a heist involving “bandits”) may be long gone but something about that bygone era remains here on what can only be described as a storybook of a property.
While the six-bedroom home, historic gardens, and coach house have been luxuriously updated and brought fully into the 21st century with every modern amenity, the footprint on the property has essentially remained frozen in time.
“What’s exceptional about this property is that it is amazingly intact from its original detailing,” says Peter Van Vechten, president of the Glencoe Historical Society. “You almost never see that anymore.”
Perhaps credit for that feat goes to the couple that has called the Goodman house their home for the last 50 years—raising three daughters here and building a lifetime of memories. Most of the changes made over the years were done with today’s lifestyle in mind, and always with an eye on preserving the historical integrity of the property.
A rear suite of rooms once home to the Goodman family’s extensive staff was converted to storage areas and additional spaces for visiting guests. A sun porch was enclosed with floor-to-ceiling windows for year-round enjoyment. And just a few years ago, the pool, adjacent pool house, and gardens were extensively renovated.
However, if an original fixture was removed for aesthetic reasons, it was saved and stored in the home’s attic. This includes an elaborate Jacobean fireplace mantel originally over the dining room fireplace and several ornate 1920s-era wall sconces.
New traditions were started but others that began in Sadie Goodman’s day were carried on, particularly when it comes to the gardens—the homeowners’ pride and joy.
Just as “Mrs. Milton Goodman” is reported as participating in a North Shore charity garden walk in a 1950 Chicago Tribune article (“a topiary hedge around the swimming pool and formal garden borders are the attractions”) the current owners have also opened up their meticulously preserved gardens to select members of the public.
Designed by emerging 20th century landscape architect Gertrude Kuh around the time the house was completed in 1924, the series of formal “garden rooms” and soft pastel English borders were recently toured by members of The Garden Conservancy—some visiting from other states.
“It’s remarkable at how well this garden was designed. Always something in bloom and the color is stunning,” says the Homeowner. “Some of these specimens can’t be found anymore.”
She has also enjoyed researching the property’s colorful history—a history that can be traced back to the 19th century to one of the most powerful men in Chicago media.
According to local records, the three acres where the house and gardens now sit was once part of a lavish estate owned by Melville Stone, founder of the Chicago Daily News (the penny newspaper) and the manager responsible for making the Associated Press the news agency it is today.
From the late 1800s through the early part of the 20th century, Van Vechten says Stone owned a large chunk of Glencoe from Aspen Lane on the north side to Franklin Street on the south, and on both sides of Sheridan Road. Stone’s own mansion, dubbed Stonehaven, was located east of Sheridan Road by the shores of Lake Michigan.
Historical documents show that Stonehaven was torn down and replaced in 1927, and that prior to that, Stone separated two parcels of the land west of Sheridan Road. One was to build a house for his daughter. The other was sold to Milton and Sadie Goodman to build their stately summer house.
And what a summer place it was—a summer place that blossomed into a home for all seasons for two families over the span of nearly a century.
So yes, this would have been around the time that Sadie Goodman might have been planning a Christmas tea at The Drake Hotel, or shopping along the boutiques of Michigan Avenue—leaving her Glencoe estate to a fleet of caretakers, dreams of the Biltmore sunshine dancing in her head.
But today, the current owners are preparing for their own departure, and making the historic home available for purchase for the first time in 50 years.
Priced at $6,750,000, it comes with a real estate listing that boasts a gracious open floor plan, fine European craftsmanship, a large master suite with a fireplace, his and hers dressing rooms, and the magnificent gardens, of course. Aptly described as magical, fit for a “tranquil escape.”
What they forgot to mention was the greatest bonus of all—the rare opportunity to step into a piece of North Shore history, perfectly preserved for generations to come.
For more information, visit MercFossrealestate.com.