Swanky Historic House Tour – North of Chicago

chitour_2_n__ahwahneeJust after the New Year, we wrote about how more & more REALTORs host tours of historic houses as a unique marketing tool, as a way to attract buyers of historic homes.  (Read that post here).  

Next week, near Chicago, five real estate agencies are collaborating to host an impressive historic house tour in the swanky North Shore town of Lake Forest.  Apparently targeting the “business lunch” crowd, the tour is to be held on Tuesday, February 10th, from 10am to 2pm.  The tour’s lead organizer, Maureen O’Grady-Tuohy of Koenig & Strey GMAC, is hoping for 200 people to attend.  It will be interesting to see if they have anywhere near that kind of turnout, since the tour recently held south of Boston yielded only about 15 attendees, despite being well-publicized.  Some of the highlights from the 5 property tour in Lake Forest:

(Oh, and don’t forget your checkbook!) . . .

chitour_290_ridge_road3290 Ridge Road (Photo Right) — Offered at $1,400,000.  I could not find other references to this, but according to O’Grady-Tuohy, the barn and coach home of the famous “Great Gatsby house” is notable for its historical significance.  She has said it is believed that F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote his famous novel “The Great Gatsby” from the coach house, and that the Daisy Buchanan character in the novel was modeled after Ginevra King, who lived in the main house.  Oddly, the listing on makes no reference to this very fascinating historical claim.  And, keep in mind that this is the “coach house” – not the “main” house.  (Imagine what that would cost!?)

2 N. Ahwahnee Road (See photo- top, left) — Offered at $2,299,000, the Harold J. Bryant House was designed by famed architect Hugh Garden. The house, which was built in 1916, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and it received the Lake Forest Preservation Award in 2008.  From  “This gracious six bedroom, three story Prairie Colonial is nestled among Heritage Oaks on 1.6 private acres. …..has original formal gardens which have been carefully and elegantly restored to reflect its historical significance and extensively remodeled to claim its rightful place in Lake Forest’s future.”

chitour_1005_e_illinois1005 E. Illinois Road (Photo, Left) — Offered at $1,995,000.  The original Japanese “Tea House” of the historic Walden estate, it was built for when the Emperor of Japan visited Mrs. Cyrus McCormick in the 1950s.  Sited in a “beautiful ravine setting,” with waterfalls and the whole works.

435 E. Illinois Road — Offered at $3,500,000.  This 1895 classic Victorian home includes a seven-room coach house and barn and is centered in a row of Victorian estates.  6 BRs & 5.5 Baths.  Photos here.

In an article in the local newspaper, O’Grady-Tuohy noted the value of historic house tours for available listings:  “I think [the tour] is a great opportunity for local residents to experience history, not just by seeing it, but by walking through these houses and feeling the history,” she said. “Each house is unique in its own way.”  No reservations are required, and apparently there is no cost.  For more information, call Maureen O’Grady-Tuohy at (847) 845-6444.


  1. by C. Forsberg, on 07.21.13 @ 12:58 PM


    Perhaps the reason you could not find other references to the claim (made by Realtor Maureen O’Grady-Tuohy) that F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote “The Great Gatsby” from the coach house of the 290 Ridge Road property is because it is 100% completely made up, and false; Fitzgerald wrote “The Great Gatsby” while living with his family in France, many many years after he associated with Ginevra King! To O’Grady-Tuohy I’d add that this is a pretty well-documented fact, in all the standard FSF biographies.

    Now while it’s true that Fitzgerald’s first love Ginevra King lived summers in the main house at 290 Ridge Road, and also true that the character of Daisy Buchanan WAS modeled at least partially after King, and even that Fitzgerald visited King at Lake Forest at least once, and thus possibly saw this house, the Daisy character (and the entire Great Gatsby novel) was written years after King and he had broken up. He’s just started getting short stories published in his college literary journal at this time (unpaid). During his brief relationship with King, he hadn’t sold so much as one story for money yet…after all, he was still a teenager! His visit to Lake Forest was years before his first published novel (1920)….and almost TEN years before he wrote “The Great Gatsby”.

    What happened is probably this: somebody found out the King-Fitzgerald connection, and then just proceeded to make up the part about him having written his masterpiece from the coach house. It’s silly; even if he ~had~ written Gatsby that far back in 1915 (which, again, he did not), these were two teenagers during a time when Victorian attitudes and customs still prevailed, and thus he wouldn’t have physically slept at 290 Ridge Road then (not even in a coach house on the same grounds)! He would have stayed with a nearby friend of the male gender, or maybe a relative, and visited King, most probably with adult supervision/chaperone.

  2. by Michael@HHB, on 07.21.13 @ 5:32 PM


    Mr. Forsberg,

    Thanks for clearing this up for us! As you can tell from the article, I was pretty skeptical at the time. Usually, where there’s smoke, there’s fire — or at least a warm coal — but this story seemed a stretch!

    All the best,

    Michael @HHB

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