Tuesday, October 25, 2011

John Hughes' Widow Lists Lake Forest Estate

SELLER: Nancy Hughes, widow of John Hughes
LOCATION: Lake Forest, IL
PRICE: $5,890,000
SIZE: 11,233 square feet, 6 bedrooms, 6 full and 4 half bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Few movie watching folks betwixt and between the ages of 15 and 65 have not in some way been affected or even transformed by the couple of dozen angst-ridden and ennui-laden teen comedies written, directed and/or produced by the late, great film maker John Hughes.

Mister Hughes' film making flame burned white hot although relatively briefly, his salad days being the mid-1980s to mid-1990s when he created and conjured scads of iconic (and dark-edged) coming of age movies that include National Lampoon's Vacation, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink, and the Home Alone franchise). In addition to making Macaulay a child star of epic proportions, Mister Hughes' movies paved the path towards not always long-standing fame and fortune for a long list of young actors who become known as The Brat Pack. They include but are not limited to Molly Ringwald, Rob Lowe, Demi Moore, Andrew McCarthy and Anthony Michael Hall.

The bespectacled and socially awkward-seeming Mister Hughes never cottoned to the glitzy-glam life of an a-list Tinseltowner and all but withdrew from the harsh glare of the kleig lights in the mid- to late-1990s. He reportedly continued to write (and write and write) and penned the story for a few (not very good) movies–can you say Maid In Manhattan? He'd effectively (and effectively) retreated from the ugly Business of Show, a probably not-entirely-conscious maneuver that has created a mystique and enduring legacy that surrounds the public memory of the man, the writer and the movie maker; In August of 2009, while walking down West 55th Street in Manhattan where he was visiting family, a 59 year old Mister Hughes unexpectedly suffered a massive heart attack and died.

Since sometime in 1988, Mister Hughes his wife and their two children–now grown adults–lived in a grand, Tudor-style mansion in the affluent Chicago, IL suburb of Lake Forest. Many of Mister Hughes movies are set in very similar upper middle class suburbs such as that which he lived. Property records are frustratingly vague but Mister and Missus Hughes reportedly paid around $600,000 in 1988–the apex of his film making fame–for the quite sizable Tudor-style pile on a thickly forested, 2.1 acre estate situated a short block or so from the sandy beaches that line the shore of Lake Michigan.

Just months after Mister Hughes met his maker on the streets of Manhattan his wife Nancy bought a new house, albeit just .6 miles from the old one. More on that later. With a new mansion, one not intimately connected to the life, times and early passing of her husband, Miz Hughes recently heaved and hoisted the house she previously shared with Mister Hughes on the market with an asking price of $5,890,000.

Current listing information shows the two-parcel spread and the original mansion was designed by architect Edwin Hill Clark and completed in 1930 for local scion Arthur Farwell Tuttle. Mister and Missus Hughes made a two-story addition to the house in 1992 that painstakingly matched the architectural detail of the original residence down to having custom hardware replicated for the doors.

The 17-room Tudor–or 21-room Tudor depending where one peeps in the property records–wraps around an intricately patterned brick driveway and massive motor court. Listing information shows the multi-winged mansion measures 11,233 square feet–property records show 18,725 and 16,909 square feet depending on where we look–and contains six-to-seven bedrooms–depending on how one counts, 6 fireplaces, a 3-car (heated!) garage, and six full and 4 half bathrooms. That's ten terlits, kiddos, which means the Hughes family either spent a lot of their free time scrubbing bowls or they employed a part-time minimum wage worker whose sole responsibility was to wield a wire scrub brush and a can of Comet.

The generously-scaled interior spaces at Chez Hughes have airy 10-11 foot ceilings and retain much of their original architectural detailing that includes wide-plank wood floors and extensive custom mill work. Your Mama asks that the children take note of the way the architect has the front door opening in to a discreetly dignified small, paneled vestibule rather than directly into the much larger but still intimate foyer.

It was only last week that we prattled on about airplane hanger sized foyers so buckle your seat belts, bunny rabbits, because here we go again: Lowerd Jeezis in heaven have mercy on Your Mama for we arr so damn dog-tired of all these inexplicably ubiquitous and unnecessarily bloated mcmansions where the front door opens directly into a way-to-flashy double height foyer with twin staircases like it was the lobby of some gaudy god damn boo-teek hotel. The children ought to trust Your Mama when we bloviate about how there ain't nuthin' less sexy or welcoming than being smacked across the face by a warehouse-sized foyer all too bluntly and conspicuously designed with a horrifying lack of restraint and seemingly specific purpose to do little more than impress the guests and induce eye-popping bouts of envy from the obviously impoverished Chinese food delivery guy.

Anyhoo, in addition to the well-scaled and fireplaced formal living and dining rooms, listing information for Mister and Missus Hughes' home indicates other rooms include paneled library with vaulted ceiling, media room (or 7th bedroom), and  a tile-floored sun room/conservatory with arched French doors the open to one of the four blue stone terraces that surround the residence.

The kitchen, large and well-equipped but out-dated and slightly industrial-looking, has a massive brass and stainless steel pot rack that looms over the butcher block-topped center work island and connects by way of perfectly aligned pointed archways through a sizable bay-windowed breakfast room to a family room with fireplace, French doors and wood-beamed ceiling.

Listing information also indicates the mansion contains a rear hall with back stair case, a sewing room, recreation room–whatever that is, and a custom-fitted office suite with wood floors, tray ceiling, fireplace, a wide niche lined with built-in bookshelves, and a built-in desk.

Wide, croquet and bocce-ball friendly lawns meander around the landscaped estate that includes a number of terraces for casual and large-scale entertaining as well as a 50-foot long swimming pool surrounded by a thicket of mature shade trees.
As mentioned earlier, just months after Mister Hughes tragically met his maker on the streets of Manhattan his long-time wife and widow Nancy dropped $5,200,000 on a smaller but still baronial Cotswald-style mansion (above) on 1.34 acres that sit just over half a mile away from the currently for sale residence she shared with Mister Hughes. The approximately 9,500 square foot residence, accessed via a 55-foot long private bridge that spans a forested ravine, was built and completed in 2005 by a local real estate developer and listing information Your Mama managed to scare up out of the interweb shows it encompasses 17 rooms with 5-6 bedrooms and 7 full and 4 half bathrooms.

listing images (old house): Coldwell Banker
exterior image (new house): Chicago Magazine


Anonymous said...

Love his movies. However I can see why the Widda wanted out of here. Racking my gin soaked brain to remember what movie that he made, might actually have been filmed here?? Those valences!! Any self respecting Realtor working the high end market should have ripped them down prior to photos!

Anonymous said...

Oh Mamma the Schweppes Estate in Lake Forest that is for sale is one of the most grand estates for sale in all of Chicago! 405 N Mayflower Drive Lake Forest!

Anonymous said...

Oh, THANK YOU Anon 1:46 for the tip on the Schweppes Estate. I just found a listing for it...http://www.luxist.com/2008/12/04/the-schweppe-estate-estate-of-the-day/
What a fantasy. Now that is a true ESTATE.

Anonymous said...

Yes... if you go to realtor.com type in Lake Forest it comes up for sale currently too most expensive house in Lake Forest and one of the rare True Estates left

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I can see faux-Tudor in Lake Forest when I cannot imagine it fitting into Pacific Palisades.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure how you actually live in a house like this; it seems like it would be cold and lonely.

Jeannified said...

Love their home. Beautiful! The new place is gorgeous, too.

Anonymous said...

I must be (not) seeing things. Where is that double foyer and twin stairs? Picture number what? I can't find it. ::??