28 December, 2010

Turicum Today


A lot of people write and ask me what remains of Villa Turicum at the present time. Even more ask if they can go to see it. In a nutshell; no, not really.

When Robert Kendler bought the estate in 1956 he subsequently divided it into parcels. (More on that later, as many promises were made at the time.) Granted, in 1956 the house was a ruin and embroiled with the Village of Lake Forest in a debate to have it torn down. As you can see, during that time Mr. Kendler proposed saving the house and grounds:

Sadly that was not to happen; at the time the above article was published, a wrecking crew was already tearing the tiles off of the roof of the house. After all was said and done the house was indeed torn down. Fortunately many elements remained; most notably the cascade to the lake, the tea-house and music pavilion, and the lily pond. All of these were incorporated into private property, the most notable being the now former Debruin parcel and the Debruins themselves; who saved, restored and enhanced the gardens and remaining elements.

So. Since all that remains is for the most part on private property, one isn't often given the chance to see what remains. Fortunately we now live in an age with the technology to see it; gardens and such, via satellite. Bing recently updated their images and I couldn't help but share them here:


This photo is exciting because we can actually see so many of the remaining elements of the estate, and where Villa Turicum proper once sat. In the upper left, you will notice the area of red brick. This was the fountain court to the first terrace on the East (lake) side of the villa itself. As your eyes move to the right you will notice the series of terraces that descend to the lake. This is the first contemporary photo that I have seen where one can actually envision quite well where the former swimming pool sat at the edge of the lake.

In the following photo, we have the same view from the opposite direction, now facing South:


For those of you not familiar with the landscape, here is the 1912 General Plan from the Blueprints section of the Villa Turicum website. I've rotated it so that you can get the same perspective:

This last photo is also interesting, because you can see the tea house and music pavilion. The red tile roof of the tea house is visible to the left, with a swimming pool now in front of it. This photo alone illustrates what I try to explain to people when they ask how the old elements of Villa Turicum have been blended with the new.

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