660 North Sheridan Road

Year of award: 
2011
Award category: 
Preservation - Founders Award
Original architect: 
unknown
Year built: 
1860-1861

Built for Hannah and Harvey Thompson

This house, prominently located just south of the ravine at the
corner of Deerpath and Sheridan Road, is also an Italian villa featuring a low-pitched roof, arched windows, bracketed eaves
under a projecting roof, and an octagonal bay window. However, “Thompson’s
villa represents a stylistic departure from [the Holt house’s]
regularity and balance toward the informal and picturesque…The
main entrance was not centered on the roadway façade but inset
within the northeast corner…The villa’s irregularity reached its climax
in an assertive three-story octagonal tower with bracketed roof
and pointed spire.” iv The spire is topped with a long spindle. Some
of the windows are “blind” and do not open.
The landscaping of this estate “featured a network of wooden
stairs, bridges and fences wending their way through [formal]
Italian-derived…features…providing artificial transitions between
abrupt changes in grade”v down the steep slopes of the property’s
ravine. A large greenhouse was located just to the rear of the main
house.
Harvey Thompson (born 1820, New York) was the first mayor
of Lake Forest (1861-65; 1867-1868). He was also an original Trustee
of the Lake Forest Association and a member of the first Board
of Trustees of Lake Forest University. The 1870 Census lists him as
a “retired grocer,” but a roster of Lake Forest Association members
says he is “of the Brevoort Hotel.” The Brevoort, located at 143 West
Madison (now 188) was “one of Chicago’s oldest inns—the first with
an elevator. It was rebuilt after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and
offered guests a luxury—a bath. There were fifty rooms in the basement,
well-ventilated, provided with folding couches and the finest
artesian water.” vi “Bathhouse” John Coughlin was the proprietor.
He was the “colorful” Alderman of Chicago’s powerful downtown
1st Ward for 46 years.