The story of how North Shore homeowners Marci and Ron Holzer fell in love is like something from a Hollywood film. Two kids from the Squirrel Hill area of Pittsburgh met at age 13. By age 15, they went on their first date (to a movie, of course). And then—in a cinematic moment to end all cinematic moments—the girl stands up to her father (once an officer in the U.S. Marines) to declare that she wants to turn down a local college dance scholarship to follow her high school sweetheart to the University of Wisconsin.
What were the chances of that working out in real life? Probably not too likely.
However, as Marci explains, the passion she and “her Ronnie” have enjoyed since they were teenagers is hard to find—and decades later, that passion comes to life with a design aesthetic that can be felt in every detail of their North Shore home.
Built in 1998 by noted Lake Forest architects Goldberg Downey, the house is grand, yet intimate, with soaring ceilings and a floor plan evocative of a luxurious sanctuary. Situated on a quiet cul de sac with elegant four-season perennial gardens visible from nearly every point of the home, Marci says their two-acre estate might be one of Highland Park’s best kept secrets.
A romantic by heart and a designer by trade, Marci has treated the 8,600-square-foot house as a blank canvas to create the couple’s ultimate dream home.
“My personal aesthetic is to be surrounded by beauty,” she says. “I find creative inspiration that way.”
Wrought iron gates were brought in from a Palm Beach estate to serve as the dramatic entrance to a dining room suitable for hosting dinner parties of all sizes. Meanwhile, floor-to-ceiling custom murals meant to depict Ruben’s famous “Garden of Love” in the main salon—along with an oversized modern painting of Adam and Eve leading to the master suite—are artistic metaphors for the couple’s lifelong romance.
That theme continues in the first floor master suite, which boasts an English conservatory off the bedroom with a spacious sitting area, a sumptuous master bath, and a first floor library/office. While the “off the charts” walk-in closet (adjacent to the master suite) was the selling point for her, she says the privacy of the property was the selling point for him.
Opposites do attract, but this couple balances each other perfectly while sharing a love of nature and philanthropy. The property’s eight cascading and meandering waterfalls designed by Mariani Landscape have been the backdrop to many civic and private events hosted at the estate—indulging both of those passions.
Alongside those spectacular waterfalls and gardens is a 50-foot heated pool with automatic cover and Jacuzzi, providing endless hours of summer fun with a separate pool house cabana. An extensive stone patio in the back and a dramatic circular driveway out front contribute to the property’s resort-like feel.
As “empty nesters” (a term Marci abhors and prefers “free spirits” instead), they have transformed the upstairs bedrooms to accommodate new grandchildren. Now there is “The Secret Garden” room for granddaughter, Avery, and “The Royal Nursery” for brave toddler knights Josh and Jude. The bonus room is an extra large studio/bedroom with mini kitchen perfect for home office or media/playroom.
Ron and Marci both turn 60 this year and their shared birthday wish is “an idyllic home on a lake” for summers spent away from their Chicago pied-a-terre or their Florida winter home.
As Marci says, if their story is indeed anything like a Hollywood film, she can’t think of a better movie than one of her favorites—On Golden Pond.
This modern classic home is currently on the market and priced at $3,750,000. For more information, visit 1925EmeraldWoods.com.