One needn’t be an F. Scott Fitzgerald aficionado to appreciate the magic of the newly built Westleigh Farm in Lake Forest.
Living on what was once the King Estate, where Fitzgerald first laid eyes on Ginevra King, who ultimately became his first love and inspiration for the character of Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby, is a special opportunity.
It’s not often that a large parcel of land becomes available in a town like Lake Forest. “It’s just very unique—I can’t emphasize enough how unusual it is from a builder/developer perspective to be able to create a new community in Lake Forest on this scale,” says Bill Ryan, CEO of North Shore Builders. “And add to that, the property’s tie-in with history and it definitely becomes a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Many people realize that Ginevra King was the inspiration for the character of Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby. But a lesser-known fact is that Ginevra was part of a group of young women known as The Big Four. They were renowned not only for their beauty and intelligence but each of them made her mark in the world on both a local and national scale.
“As I researched the project, one of the more interesting facts I discovered was about Ginevra and The Big Four. It was so unique that the four young women who were from the little town of Lake Forest, Illinois went on to do some very special and interesting things for their time,” Ryan says.
The company has built numerous homes around the country, and yet took a different approach to this project. “We really wanted to set a mission that would respect the history of the estate and its founders,” Ryan says. Ryan and his team have been committed to preserving history while still offering new homeowners everything they want.
While living in Lake Forest has huge benefits, Ryan notes that there comes a time when a large home that has served a family well for decades suddenly becomes a little too big and maybe takes up a little too much time, energy, and financial commitment to maintain.
North Shore Builders’ goal is to provide the ideal setting for that next chapter: A deluxe, open concept floor plan that is designed for first-level living, with state of the art, energy-efficient, and Smart technology features. Combine that with being able to live in a home that’s virtually maintenance-free (robots that mow the lawn? Yes, please!) and surrounded by gorgeous natural beauty, “you get what we feel is the best of both worlds,” Ryan says. “We wanted to lower the burden of property maintenance while still letting residents enjoy the open space characteristics of Lake Forest.”
While preserving the history and integrity of the original King estate, this new 47-acre luxury community features lush gardens, woodlands, meadows, ponds, walking paths, docks, bridges, a community clubhouse, and outdoor meeting and dining areas.
The original structures have been refurbished or replicated and remain important components of the subdivision. The original polo grounds have been transformed into a great expanse of The Central Lawn, visible from each of the 34 homes. The iconic Howard Van Doren Shaw stable has been re-purposed as the Country Estate Entry feature. What was a David Adler designed guesthouse has been recreated as a community house, including an outdoor dining and gathering space. The King mansion is also currently undergoing an extensive renovation.
“Originally the whole purpose of this estate was more of a country home,” Ryan explains. “People would leave downtown Chicago and come up and spend weekends or the summer in Lake Forest, which was kind of a vacationland with a number of gentry estates. So we wanted to make sure that we had that setup, that we had a community area where people could have parties and gather and have social events.”
In the Meadow Area, prospective residents may choose from three different floor plans, all with four different architectural styles. The company also provides a private design center experience with an endless selection of high-end finishes and details to meet the needs of today’s families. Each home is a single-family detached private residence with homesites that provide enough space for a three-car side entry garage, sunroom, deck, screened porches, and more.
Ryan aims to make sure that every home is customized to the exact desires of each resident. “We start with the most desirable floor plans, add dozens of predesigned and pre-priced customizations, then when we get to the end of that process, we ask our buyers to tell us what they think is missing and we do our best to make it exactly the way they want it.”
For more information, visit nsbwestleigh.com.