Visitors to Whitehall in Lake Forest can be forgiven for assuming they’ve been cast as modern-day extras in a classic British period drama.
The estate, commissioned in 1920 by Continental bank President Arthur Reynolds, holds an intriguing and historically significant pedigree.
“This is not just another big home on a large lot in Lake Forest,” says Diana Peterson, President and CEO of AW Properties Global, who is co-listing the property with Erica Goldman of Jameson Sotheby’s International Realty. “This property is truly exceptional and one-of-a-kind.”
The estate was designed by Daniel Burnham, whose trademark was foundations built on steel beams. It was completed by noted architects Graham, Anderson, Probst & White, known at the time for championing the Beaux Arts style, which is reflected in structures throughout Chicago, such as the Wrigley Building, the Field Museum, and Union Station.
The Whitehall name derives from the Whitehall Castle, which was built between 1578 and 1582 for Lord Richard Prynce, a lawyer, in Shrewsbury, England. Originally called Prynce’s Mansion, it received its current moniker in the 1800s after many years of whitewash covered its bare red sandstone.
The connection between the two properties— separated by centuries and an ocean—can be found in the interiors of the Lake Forest house.
“The interiors were constructed with entire rooms, plaster ceilings, wood paneling, and millwork imported from the Whitehall Castle in Shrewsbury,” says Peterson. “Marshall Field himself oversaw the safe passage of the Whitehall Castle’s rooms in which kings, queens, and noblemen had been entertained.”
Guests at Whitehall in Shrewsbury included King Charles the First, who popped in for a stay in 1642, Oliver Cromwell (1645), King James the Second (1687), and Charles Darwin. It was a house of character—history literally being written between its walls.
The Whitehall in Lake Forest was built with the same attention to detail as the original in Shrewsbury, and Peterson says constructing the same house today would be a challenge.
“To build this home today would be prohibitively expensive,” she says. “Not only was it constructed using the imported English castle elements that make the interiors so unique, but the Ludowici clay tile roof, zinc gutters, and wrought iron metal work that adorn Whitehall’s exterior are what evoke an aura of elegance as you approach this impressive, stately home.”
As with the house, Reynolds spared no expense with the gardens, which were designed in grand, English style by renowned landscape designer Ellen Biddle Shipman. Shipman, one of the first landscape architects to break into the male-dominated occupation, promptly made a name for herself designing gardens for estates and urban buildings throughout the east and Midwest, including Manhattan’s Astor Court Building.
“The in-ground, heated pool that is at the center of this home’s entertainment areas is surrounded by gorgeous English gardens,” Peterson says. “Inside and out, this home was built for entertaining in a grand and elegant style.”
The house itself, which was completed in 1925, features eight bedrooms, five full bathrooms and five half-baths, grand entertainment rooms, and intimate spaces, all totaling just over 11,000 square feet. The property, nearly six acres, also features garage spaces for five cars.
While the house has been impeccably maintained, it has retained its historic charm, with its hidden passages and leaded glass windows. Entering the home, one can see the grand foyer and its carved oak wainscoting, stone cased openings, and intricate millwork.
The formal dining room, historic library, grand hall, and living room can all be viewed from the entrance, and the kitchen and butler’s pantry are adjacent to the formal dining room and a morning room with secluded views of the grounds. Also on the first floor are ladies’ and gentlemen’s powder rooms, a mud room, and an office.
The second floor consists of a private master bedroom wing with separate dressing room, three bedroom suites, four additional bedrooms, five full baths, a laundry room, and linen room. The third floor features an expansive game room with an original English pub with built-in ice chest, brew station, and a half bath.
Notably, Whitehall has had only three owners since it was built, a sign of its unique splendor.
“Only a few very prominent and fortunate families have called Whitehall home. We are excited to be collaborating and co-listing with Erica Goldman of Jameson Sotheby’s International Realty to bring this special property to auction,” Peterson says. “While our team has set an online auction for October 19 to 21, we fully anticipate Whitehall being sold well before the online auction through the pre-auction bidding process, which has already begun.”
For more information about the Whitehall auction, contact Diana Peterson, AW Properties Global, at 847- 509-2757, [email protected]roperties.com, or visit awproperties.com