Jaws will drop. Eyes will widen. Gasps will break silence.
But the “wow factor” won’t be limited to interior settings at four Winnetka abodes during The Home Tour on May 20. The event is a new fundraising event for the Community House in Winnetka—a unique 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that has played a special role on the North Shore, having offered opportunities to find friendship, belonging, and community spirit in a home away from home, for more than a century—without support from local taxes.
One of the exquisite North Shore residences on the inspiring tour—a modern Tudor lakefront home in the ravine area—features striking repairs that the homeowner made to the property’s failed bluff and eroded shoreline.
“This will differentiate our tour beyond beautiful architecture and gorgeous décor, though, of course, we have that too,” says Home Tour Chair Kate Kligora of the Community House Winnetka Woman’s Board. “The project is a great example of the responsibility lakefront owners are taking to protect the Lake Michigan shoreline through enormous investments. What they’re doing is beneficial to all of us in that they’re making sure our beaches maintain their beauty.”
“It’s community service,” she adds. “It’s being a good community member.”
The homeowner tapped Gurnee-based CNM Development and Kenosha, Wisconsin- based Thomas Nordloh Associates to tackle an intricate bluff restoration that started in 2019 and finished in November 2021.
Among the items on the “To Do” list that nearly matched the length of the steep backyard bluff: diagnose the bluff ’s slope and arrange for the transport of materials via marine access only; add tram landings on tableland, mid-level wall, and beach terrace; install quartzite stones to prevent erosion of the toe of the bluff; create new drainage; enable earth retention with walls; and prevent future erosion through environmentally conscious landscaping, including native plantings.
What triggered the damage to the bluff and shoreline?
“Three consecutive wet years,” says CNM Development Owner Jeff Tondola, a licensed home inspector and seasoned construction professional who grew up in Glenview and counts Dr. Charles Shabica—Emeritus Professor of Earth Science at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago—as one of his inspirations. “Climate change probably had something to do with that, since we’ve seen swings in the water level of Lake Michigan.”
“It was a daunting project, yes, with engineers and contactors working together and considering our company is as small (force of four) as it is,” he adds. “I was proud that we could figure it all out. The end result was a really clean bluff. It should last 100 years.”
Tom Nordloh, owner of Thomas Nordloh Associates, has been a registered landscape architect for 35 years. He also invented a machine for erosion control. He’s part architect, part artist.
“I had to use both sides of my brain for this undertaking,” Nordloh says. “But, while it’s good to be creative, you have to also make sure that the creation will work. I enjoyed the challenge of working to restore a bluff that was failing. I also enjoyed working with Jeff. He has an innate ability to look at a slope and see things most can’t see. He has a wealth of knowledge.”
“You know what would be great? If those attending the Home Tour could see ‘before’ pictures of the back of the house,” Nordloh suggests.
The homeowner, meanwhile, can’t wait to give credit to Tondola, Nordloh, and their diligent colleagues during The Home Tour. “We had a lot of work to do,” the homeowner says. “The bluff had not been maintained, and there was the issue of enduring many big storms. Beaches, not just ours, were gone or disappearing. Jeff and Tom were amazing. Our neighbors, on both sides, were amazing; we worked with them because they were doing similar projects.”
The Home Tour attendees also will get to view a unique Craftsman on the Historic Register, a modern Belgian farmhouse, and a custom new construction build. In other words, prepare to drink in variety. Opportunities to marvel at beauty—what every Home Tour aspires to provide—will not be in short supply.
But this inaugural Home Tour will have something extra, something special: a comeback story doubling as a conservation story.
THE HOME TOUR
WHERE: FOUR HOUSES IN WINNETKA
WHEN: RESIDENCES OPEN 10 A.M. to 3 P.M. LUNCHEON 11 A.M. to 2 P.M. AT THE COMMUNITY HOUSE IN WINNETKA
The Woman’s Board of the Community House in Winnetka hosts a new fundraising event, “The Home Tour,” an inspiring tour of exquisite North Shore homes. The tour showcases four Winnetka houses with a variety of architectural styles—a unique Craftsman on the Historic Register, a modern Belgian farmhouse, a custom new construction build, and a modern Tudor lakefront home in the ravine area.
“Every house has a story,” says The Home Tour Chair Kate Kligora. “We secured beautiful homes in Winnetka that reflect the extensive range of architectural styles and aesthetics represented in the village. Attendees will have the opportunity to meet the architect, designer, or builder behind the vision in each home.”
Tickets are $85 and include the luncheon. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit mycommunityhouse.org/home-tour, or call the Community House front desk at 847-446-0537. All proceeds from The Home Tour benefit the Community House.