The old adage that “the show must go on” has never been more poignant this summer as the Lake Forest Chapter of the Infant Welfare Society prepares to raise the curtain on its legendary biennial fundraiser.
While new protocol will be in place to help adhere to state-recommended Phase 4 guidelines, the 2020 Lake Forest Showhouse & Gardens will open daily from Monday, July 13, through Sunday, August 9, with all the glory and spectacular design fans have come to expect for 36 years.
This year’s show home is a magnificent, turnof-the-century East Lake Forest Pullman estate that has been transformed—pro bono, no less—by a team of more than 30 interior and landscape designers.
The 23-room, 11,000-square-foot, 1906 mansion by Frost & Granger was completely renovated by architect Stanley Anderson in the late 1920s for investment banker William Allan Pinkerton Pullman, the grand-nephew of George M. Pullman, the developer and manufacturer of Pullman cars.
An avid gardener and co-founder of the Chicago Botanic Garden, William A.P. Pullman worked with New York landscape architect Annette Hoyt in 1937 to create world class gardens on the property. Some of the original plantings still exist—from a Ginkgo tree of epic proportion to rare Chinese maples and Japanese lilacs, as well as the original boxwood hedges—the same ones that inspired others to plant “Pullman boxwood” in formal gardens.
Award-winning interior designer Paloma Contreras says this architectural legacy is part of the reason she agreed to be Honorary Chair of the 2020 event and take on the transformation of the home’s formal dining room.
“Above all, it was important to me to participate in this showhouse because it benefits the Chicago Infant Welfare Society, which provides comprehensive medical services including dental, vision, maternal, and mental health to Chicago’s most underserved communities,” says Contreras, a nationally recognized design blogger based in Houston. “In addition, I’ve long been aware of the architectural history of Lake Forest and admire its reverence for its architectural past.”
Stanley Anderson, the architect whose influence is most evident at the Pullman estate, made many contributions to the visual character of Lake Forest, including designing the concrete post and lantern-style streetlights throughout the city and Lake Forest High School, picked the most beautiful public high school in Illinois by Architectural Digest.
In addition to Contreras, participating designers include Studio Gild, Studio CAK, Elizabeth Krueger Design, Shelley Johnstone Design, Sarah Vaile Design, James Thomas Interiors, Wendy Labrum Interiors, Joey Leicht Design, and Konstant Home. For a complete list of designers, visit lakeforestshowhouse.com/2020-designers.
Upon entering the three-acre estate, guests will be greeted by a garden designed by JMR Landscaping. Other gardens have been created by Scott Byron & Co., Mariani Landscape, Schmechtig Landscapes, and JLC Landscaping. A 16-foot tall garden folly, constructed by Bulley & Andrews and designed by Manhattan-based architecture firm Bories & Shearron, will be available for purchase with 100 percent of the sale price benefitting Infant Welfare Society of Chicago.
Following state safety guidelines in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a restricted number of tickets will be sold per day—divided by morning and afternoon sessions, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets are $40 and must be purchased in advance. No walk-ins will be allowed, and face coverings are required.
The 2020 Lake Forest Showhouse & Gardens is being co-chaired by Jennifer Mower, Jennifer Horan, Chrissy Davis, and Sarah Georgi, who say modifications to this year’s version of the beloved event is a perfect opportunity for design enthusiasts to coordinate with friends and family to plan a group visit.
The public is also invited to follow the Lake Forest Showhouse’s Instagram (@lfshowhouse) for a virtual glimpse at the estate’s magnificent transformation, both inside and out. The home benefits the Angel Harvey Family Health Center of the Infant Welfare Society of Chicago, which is celebrating more than 108 years of providing health care to Chicago’s medically underserved.
Founded in 1911, the agency has grown to meet changing needs, initially providing fresh milk from “health stations” in response to high infant mortality. Since 1970, its mission has been fulfilled and vastly expanded through a single freestanding Logan Square clinic that offers a unique array of health care services for the entire family.
The Lake Forest Chapter, founded in 1926, has hosted a designer showhouse biennially for 36 years. Widely recognized as one of the top showhouses in the country, the Lake Forest Showhouse & Gardens has raised more than $4.5 million for The Infant Welfare Society of Chicago.
As in previous years, many of the items at the Lake Forest Showhouse & Gardens will be for sale. A price list of items from furnishings to accessories will be made available in each designer space. Purchased items can be picked up following the close of the house, with 15 percent of the sales benefitting Infant Welfare Society of Chicago.
All designers, along with their room renderings that reference paint colors, wall treatments, art, and textiles used in each space, will be detailed in the Lake Forest Showhouse program book, making it a great keepsake. A Lake Forest Showhouse & Gardens program book is included with ticket purchase.
Lori Lennon of Lori Lennon & Associates has been involved with the Lake Forest Showhouse & Gardens for many years. She, like others in the community, is happy that this show will indeed go on—pandemic precautions and all.
“I love working with the Lake Forest ladies,” says Lennon. “They are wonderful to work with. I actually love them because they are so dedicated to the cause.”
The Lake Forest Showhouse & Gardens will be open to visitors every day from July 13 through August 9. Hours are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets are $40 and must be purchased in advance at lakeforestshowhouse.com.