Westleigh Farms will be on 47 acres of an estate that once belonged to the family that introduced F. Scott Fitzgerald to the upper crust—and will neighbor older buildings by David Adler and Howard Van Doren Shaw.
A North Shore property that is said to have been an inspiration for the iconic American novel The Great Gatsby is well on its way to being redeveloped with a series of brand new single family homes. The new development, titled Westleigh Farms, is being built on a former Lake Forest estate that spans 47 acres and includes existing structures from notable Chicago-area architects David Adler and Howard Van Doren Shaw.
During the early 20th Century, the property belonged to wealthy stockbroker Charles Garfield King and his family. A courtship between King’s daughter, Ginevra, and a young F. Scott Fitzgerald introduced the budding author not only to the family, but the world of America’s exclusive upper class. The rest is history.
Developer North Shore Builders formally acquired the property last year via a $9 million purchase (which was one of the priciest sales in the Chicago metro area in 2017). The subdivision was approved by the city of Lake Forest much earlier however, allowing the developer to split the property up into 34 separate lots. As a part of the agreement, North Shore Builders was asked to sell the Van Doren Shaw–designed Colonial mansion on South Ridge Road.
According to sales and marketing team, led by David Wolf of On Collaborative, the property is currently under contract to a preservation-minded buyer who plans to renovate the house as a primary residence.
Sales are formally underway on the new houses for the site. According to Wolf, North Shore Builders is constructing 26 new homes and will sell the eight remaining lots to buyers who prefer to build on their own. There are three different home models being offered by North Shore Builders ranging in size and cost with all variations featuring a different take on the farmhouse aesthetic. The base price for one of the new properties is $1.099 million.
“What the developers really wanted to do was restore the properties that needed to be restored and build houses that compliment the landscape,” Wolf says regarding the subdivision’s theme. “There’s a lot of demand for something like this in the North Shore.”
The homes built in the new planned community will be maintenance-free, Wolf adds. A monthly association fee of $495 will cover the subdivision’s landscaping and allow residents access to common amenities such as the community clubhouse—a David Adler–designed residence originally designed to house butlers and groundskeepers. The estate’s old stables designed by Howard Van Doren Shaw will be renovated and repurposed as a maintenance shed and storage.
The first wave of new homes are expected to be delivered later this year.
Luxury homes offer a return to the glory days on the scenic estate that inspired Fitzgerald’s famous novel.
Sales have begun at Westleigh Farm, a community of 34 luxury single-family homes on the grounds of the historic King Country Estate in Lake Forest, Ill. Built in 1905 as a summer home for the King family, the estate was frequented by F. Scott Fitzgerald in his teenage years while he was romantically involved with Ginevra King, his inspiration for The Great Gatsby character Daisy Buchanan.
Offered by Winnetka, Ill.-based North Shore Builders, Westleigh Farm encompasses 47 acres of gardens, woodlands, ponds, and walking paths. The Woods neighborhood, located on the southern edge of the plan, includes the original King mansion and seven custom home sites in a densely wooded area.
The Meadow neighborhood occupies the northern portion of the plan, and includes 26 ranch homes surrounding a central lawn. Priced from $1.1 million, the plans range from 3,523 to 4,500 square feet with three to five bedrooms, 2 ½ to 3 ½ baths, and two- to three-car garages. Luxury features include 9-foot ceilings and hardwood flooring on the main level, a 42-inch fireplace, granite countertops, custom Amish-made cabinetry, Viking appliances, and Kohler bathroom fixtures and tubs. Buyers have the options of fully finished lower levels, additional bedrooms, side-load garages, covered decks, butler’s pantries, full sunrooms, and more.
Accessibility features include wide hallways and doors, zero-step showers with a seat in the master bath, and sensor lighting in closets, laundry rooms, and pantries. Buyers with mobility issues can add an elevator and lowered foundation for a no-step entrance to their home.
The ranch homes sit on .25-acre sites that include landscaping and snow removal, perfect for lock-and-leave owners who may travel often or have winter homes, according to North Shore Builders founder and CEO Bill Ryan. The estate’s original staff quarters lodge located in The Meadow has been repurposed as a community gathering space with outdoor dining and a lawn overlooking a large pond. North Shore Builders also converted the original stable into a community entryway and maintenance facility.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for buyers to live in one of the most coveted and preserved areas in the North Shore – to enjoy the same scenic and tranquil qualities that drew the original owners here more than a century ago and captivated the imagination and heart of one of our country’s greatest writers,” Ryan says.
By: Kathleen Brown