John Hughes, the filmmaker behind films such as The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Planes, Trains & Automobiles, and Home Alone, was proof of that. From 1988 until his recent passing, he called Lake Forest home. Let’s get a little more specific. It was 855 E. Westminster—a truly spectacular property—that he called home. Now, this gorgeous 2.1-acre estate is back on the market waiting for the next visionary to continue its legacy. Because, let’s face it, if walls could talk, these ones have heard stories worth millions.
Located in the historic district of East Lake Forest, the estate is less than a block from Lake Michigan and less than half a mile from Market Square, the train station, Sheridan Elementary School, Lake Forest High School, and Lake Forest College. The 11,233-square-foot, three-story residence was built in the English Tudor style in 1929, but was heavily renovated by the Hughes family in 1992, injecting the home with the conveniences needed for today’s families, all while perfectly replicating the original Edwin Hill Clark design.
You can tell from the moment you drive through the gate at the west entrance and pull onto one of the two paver forecourts that this is a meticulously maintained home. The brick around the door is stacked in a charming herringbone pattern before giving way to textured stucco, hewn brackets, and half-timbering, all underneath the Ludowici clay tile roof. There are a myriad of casement windows in varying sizes, a heated three-car garage, and stunning landscaping maintained by Mariani Landscape. Not immediately visible upon arrival are other enviable exterior features like the lovely garden featuring a decorative fountain and the extensive hardscaping including four large bluestone terraces.
Stepping into the 11,233-square-foot home, the seamless marriage between the exterior and the interior is evident. Continued inside is the handsome hand-hewn half-timbering and many of the features—the moldings, wood beams, brackets, quarter-sawn oak paneling, and millwork—are all original. The rooms are all large with 10′ to 11′ ceilings, and the wood floors are flawless, quarter-sawn oak as well.
There are six bedrooms, each with a fullbathroom attached. The master bedroom has two full walk-in closets and a generous master bath with a steam shower and jacuzzi tub. There are also six masonry wood-burning fireplaces with limestone surrounds, the best of which has to be the one in Hughes’ office, built in 1992; the Hughes Entertainment logo—an “H” with a star serving as the crossbar—is emblazoned on the center of the mantel. The rest of the office is equally impressive with custom built-in desks and bookshelves. It’s a space that feels made to order for doing your best work.
The kitchen was one of the areas that was updated during the big remodel—introducing a spacious island with an extra sink which increases the already generous counter space, in addition to the massive butler’s pantry and the introduction of a cozy, informal breakfast room.
Of course, no filmmaker’s home would be complete without a media room. The one on the second floor was created by removing the walls of what was once the staff wing, enlarging the space for an in-home screening room perfect for relaxation and family time. It’s not the only space for recreation though. The first floor has a large library, a gorgeous garden room, and there’s a heated 21′ x 50′ Boilini swimming pool.
“Our family enjoyed over 20 years of unity and creativity on Westminster, and our ties to Lake Forest continue today,” says Nancy Hughes, John’s wife of 38 years. “The memories we share from our time in this home and its spectacular surroundings and community remain inseparable.” Though there’s a laundry list of jaw-dropping features and amenities listed on the Coldwell Banker website for this listing, one feature is noticeably missing. Countless cultural touchstones and internationally recognized characters emerged from this estate by the lake. Under this roof, surrounded by these walls, John Hughes wrote words on a page that people all over the world will never forget.
For more information on the property, visit 855westminster.com, or call Ann Lyon at 847-828-9991.