By the time the Louis Gillson family moved into the Colonial Revival house in east Wilmette that they would occupy for many years, they were already established as one of the area’s prominent families. Stepping inside the home today, the gleaming staircases, built-in bookcases, fireplace mantels, and hardwood floors glow with more than a century of patina. However, the rooms have all been updated, renovated and styled for the family that lives in them today.
The opportunity to visit historic homes of the past that live on as vibrant expressions of the families that own them now is what the Wilmette Historical Museum’s (WHM) house walk is all about. From 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, May 19, WHM guides will lead ticket holders on tours of four east Wilmette homes that comprise the 32nd iteration of the event.
Titled “1890s Elegance to 1950s Chic,” this year’s home tour includes the former Gillson residence, a unique, Mid-Century Modern house designed in the 1950s by an architect for his own family, a restored Tudor Revival home from the 1920s, and a Colonial Revival from the early 1900s.
Walk organizers say the Mid-Century modern house is furnished with vintage furniture and lighting, and includes an expansive art collection. The Tudor Revival home showcases period architectural details combined with thoughtful, modern updates. And the Colonial Revival home, originally built for a well-known businessman and his family, is considered a masterful example of this type of architecture, and includes the current owners’ artifact collections from around the world.
“Restoration and preservation of older homes like these helps retain our community’s cultural and visual diversity, reuses existing resources, and supports the goal of creating a sustainable future for our village,” says Kathy Hussey-Arntson, director of the Wilmette Historical Museum.“We feel fortunate to be able to feature the four homes in this year’s walk. Each one represents an architectural style that helped shape the look and feel of Wilmette as it grew over the decades.”
In addition to learning details about the history and architectural elements that give each home on the tour its unique character, tour participants will have the opportunity to view how homeowners have creatively and respectfully remodeled elements of each home to preserve character while gracefully making them more functional for the current decade.
An informative brochure about the history, architecture, and early owners of each of the four homes is included in the ticket price. Tickets purchased by 5 p.m. on Monday, May 13 receive a discount and are $40 for museum members, $50 for non-members, and $25 for students in grades 3 or above. After May 13, ticket prices increase by $10. (This event is not appropriate for younger children.)
Proceeds from ticket sales support the work of the Wilmette Historical Museum in preserving the village’s past. The 32nd annual house walk is made possible through the support of Morgante Wilson Architects, Nature’s Perspective Landscaping, North Shore Community Bank and Trust, R.H. Witt Heating, deGiulio Kitchen Design, Cook Architectural Design Studio, Inc., Don Olson State Farm Insurance, Millen Hardware Store, and Oscar Isberian Rugs.