03 May, 2011


And so it goes. Again. It was with great interest that I read this article in Gazebo News on Sunday indicating the Lake Bluff's Stonebridge has a new owner in SunCal; taking over from Stonebridge Lake Bluff, LLC. This is indeed interesting when one takes a look at a typical SunCal development:

An aerial view of a SunCal project; Meadowlark Estates in San Marcos, CA

But I digress. Stonebridge was built in 1916 for William V. Kelley at 136 Green Bay Road (W. side of Green Bay Rd. at Witchwood) in Lake Bluff. The architect was Howard Van Doren Shaw, with Jens Jensen on board as the landscape architect.

The Western exposure of Stonebridge circa 1920

Once upon a time, the country estates built along Green Bay Road in Lake Bluff were a continuation of the Green Bay Road Estates that flank Green Bay Road in Lake Forest. These extended north from Westleigh Road (and Villa Turicum) to the boundary of Lake Forest/Lake Bluff.

The entrance loggia in 1920

William V. Kelley originally owned a vast tract of land that extended north to property owned by the estate of Leander McCormick. It extended west to Knollwood Farm, south to the estate of Darius Miller in Lake Forest and east to and partially across Green Bay Road. Originally 130 acres, Stonebridge as it stands now is approximately 47 acres.

An aerial view of Stonebridge, with the quadrangle of the estate house and it's 1955 additions visible south of Witchwood Lane. (The estate of William's son; Phelps Kelly is also visible south of the property.)

Stonebridge has seen many incarnations. It was the Harrison Conference Center until 2006. Previously, it was owned by the Servite Order of the Catholic Church. (A fairly large dormitory space and chapel were added to the main house in 1955.) I've read Rick Lesser's article which states that the manor house and the gate house have sat without heat in the winter, nor air conditioning in the summer for many years now; with the property being in foreclosure. This will ring all too familiar to my Villa Turicum followers, no?

The estate house at Stonebridge

I do embrace change. It opens new doors and ushers in new possibilities. But I must confess apprehension as I continue to hear almost identical arguments, stories and poorly executed plans that also occurred with regard to Villa Turicum fifty years ago. Have we learned nothing? Or have we simply forgotten?

The entrance to Stonebridge at 136 Green Bay Road

When I look at SunCal's resume of work, not to mention a history financial woes I have to say I am stunned and distressed for the fate of Stonebridge. I read that perhaps the gate house is beyond repair and I hear about grand plans that never materialize - as an historic and architecturally relevant address falls into ruin. I can only hope that in this instance the fate will be different than that of Villa Turicum.


marjiscott said...

This was my Great Grandparents country home. I unfortunately have never seen it, or known about it until 2009. What was the fate of Stone Bridge?

Anonymous said...

My grandfather, was the Kelly's chaaueffer. And Mr. Kelly gave my mom and dad an engagement party. Is there any way to acquire photos from the 20's and 30's from the house and its occupants?
Pat N.