~ Villa Turicum ~






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ADDRESS OF BUILDING: 595-655 Circle Lane

ORIGINALLY BUILT FOR: Harold McCormick (Edith Rockefeller McCormick)



DATE of work discussed on this form: 1912 Source of that date: [blank]

ARCHITECT of that work: Charles A. Platt Source of that identity [blank]


Exterior: notable features visible on the building and grounds, for example, gardens, landscaping, walls, gates, fountains, coach house: --if the work altered something already existing, specify what those alterations were


Italian Villa Style - 300 Acre estate. High plateau overlooking Lake Michigan covered with native oak, maple, ash & hickory. Two large ravines cut through the property. House based on Villa D'Este in Tivoli, Italy - near Rome. 44 rooms - 15 bathrooms 21 garages (each with imported copper door) 29 bedrooms for visiting chauffeurs, 28 rooms for gardeners, magnificent gardens & $600,000 tea house.


Stucco with green shutters, tile roof - service wings concealed (green sheet) by heavy woods (Approach through pine forest.)


Interior: notable features inside the main buildings, for example, period rooms, special rooms, fireplaces, notable interior decoration - if the work altered something already existing, specify what those alterations were:


Marble fireplaces, marble-walled ballroom, marbled-walled & columned Pompeian room with pool & fountain - oil-painted walls & ceiling, walnut paneled dining room for 60. 13 master bedrooms, each with bath & fireplace.










:: The Villa Grounds ::


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To the south of the house we have access from the living porch to the promenade fountain terrace. A wide grass panel, in which the playing jet of a tall fountain forms the center of interest, is flanked on either side with planting beds edged with a low barberry hedge. Myriads of peonies and flowering plants fill the formal beds, and to the west or woodland side, and the east or lake side, are huge green tubs filled with clipped bay trees. In line with the bronze fountain, far to the south, down a long elm-lined vista, has been placed a tea house, lighted at night by a huge chandelier, and accented in its height and contrasting red tile roof by the forest trees.



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The logia and promenade terrace.


To the right of the promenade terrace we may wander down a gravel walk to the hemlock hedge-enclosed lily pool garden. Because of the rise in grade at the south of this garden we feel as though the entire area were sunken. The early days of June bring a profusion of color in the many varieties of irises then in bloom. Here, also, all the planting areas are trimly lined with low barberry hedges. A pink marble basin, about one hundred feet in length, is presided over at either end by a group of three bronze dolphins, which with the pedestal send sheets of water over the lily pool below. The water lilies in June are in their prime, and when the fountain is playing on a bright day, the garden is a riot of color. Six formal marble herms have been effectively set along either side of the garden, where they make a most effective sculptural group against the high evergreen hedge, suggesting the Roman gardens of long ago. Above this charming garden, reached by two short flights of marble steps, lies the bowling green, enclosed by a balustrade and wall of stone. Stone seats, from which the games may be watched, flanked at either side by bronze lighting fixtures make the enclosure walls most interesting from an architectural and decorative point of view. The south lawn, many acres in extent, is reached from the bowling green. As we walk toward the east we traverse the allee that leads to the tea-house pavilion.



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The lily pool, or sunken garden, with its marble basin, bronze fountains and classic sculpture, is a veritable Italian picture.


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A corner of the sunken garden, showing the rare hemlock hedge, which forms the background for the pillared busts or herms.


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A stone balustrade bounds the bowling green above the sunken garden.



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From the sun-room to the South, there is a charming view of the fountain terrace and the teahouse pavilion.

The service buildings are built about a paved courtyard, in the center of which are set rubbed oleanders and terra cotta pots filled with ivy and annual flowers. In this group and enclosure is staged the lovely displays of garden flowers brought each year to "Villa Turicum" by the members of the Lake Forest Garden Club.


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The portal in the wall of the service garden leads to the woodland roads of the residential area.

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The courtyard of the service buildings

Beyond the carriage house to the east lie the vegetable and cut flower gardens, terminated by a garden house at the lower end. The area is enclosed by a high stucco wall, framed by towering oaks. A mighty oak monarch, two hundred and fifty years of age, graces the center of the circular cut flower garden. A circular stone seat hugs the trunk, and beyond the wide encircling walk a mass of roses of all varieties bloom throughout the June days, as though to pay homage to the mighty oak. Many varieties of peonies, as well as countless beds of annual flowers, vie with the roses in furnishing blooms for the house. That marvel, a weed-less vegetable garden, lies west and up the slope to the service group. In the early spring the walls are brightened by hawthorns and apple blossoms.


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The cut flower garden in the wall-enclosed expanse east of the service group. The mighty oak in the center stands guard over the luxuriant blooms.


The winding drives from the service court reach the main highway approach, and swing through the woodland to the mall and to the service wing.

"Villa Turicum" is indeed both charming and magnificent. The ideals envisioned by the artist and his client have found full expression in the gardens, the walks, the waters, the vistas and panoramas. The photographs convey a measure of the beauty which really beggars description.


:: Interiors ::






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PALATIAL GARAGE - Larger than the Villa Turicum mansion itself, this quadrangle housed servants of both the McCormicks and their guests. Put into use in 1912 when cars were still in limited number, the building contained 21 garages each with copper doors facing onto a brick-paved courtyard. Until a few years ago, the quarters above the garages were rented to a few persons working in Lake Forest.


Saturday September 21, 1963 The Waukeegan News-Sun








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