22 May, 2013

The Villa Turicum Service Court

When I opened my email this morning, quite by coincidence I had a note requesting pictures of the service buildings at Villa Turicum. I was pleased to report to my correspondent that only yesterday  I acquired some pictures of the quadrangle that were taken in 1959.

The western side of the service court as it appeared in 1930.

A similar view of the service court in 1959, with the clock tower visible on the left.

When Charles Platt's service buildings for Villa Turicum were put into use in 1912, it was quickly realized that they were unique and palatial. At a time when relative few owned automobiles, an astonishing 21 garages (in addition to stables) were built within the quadrangle, with quarters for the visiting chauffeurs and staff of Villa Turicum's guests. Accommodations were also present for the many service people involved in the running of the estate. So large and extensive was the service court - it actually contained more square footage than the Villa itself.

The structures rapidly fell into disrepair after the Villa was demolished in 1956 and tenants were no longer allowed to use the service space. 

The eastern view of the service court in 1959.

Each of the imported doors of the garage were made of copper, facing a brick courtyard that in season would contain rubbed oleanders and terra cotta pots filled with ivy and annual flowers. Quite often Edith Rockefeller McCormick would allow the Lake Forest Garden Club to use Villa Turicum for their annual flower show, and great use would be made of the service court; staging the displays of flowers that were brought to the event for display.

 Westleigh Rd., and the northern elevation of the quadrangle.

The northern elevation of the service buildings in 1959.

After Edith died in 1932, her estate remained in probate for nearly twenty years; a period in which Villa Turicum went into decline and accrued a substantial debt in back taxes. Syndicates of buyers came and went, and during this period tenants were allowed to let the residential spaces in the east and west service buildings.

When the estate was purchased for development in 1956, the mansion was deemed a "dangerous building" by the Lake County Circuit Court in a lawsuit. The new owners decided  that "repair was impractical," and Villa Turicum was destroyed that year.  The service court would be razed within the next decade to make way for the "Villa Turicum" subdivision, although "Walden's" service buildings  across Westleigh Rd. remain to this day.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

When I was a young boy, I had friends living on Walden Lane, Ringwood and Bluffs Edge. At the time all these buildings were still intact, your photos bring back manyg good memories of adventures. Thank you for sharing them.

There is a book a beautiful book at my mothers house in L.F. on Walden and its gardens. Have you seen it?