David Adler, the favored architect of the North Shore’s 20th-century elite, possessed an enviable ability to interpret the great residential styles of the past. Adler offered his well-heeled clients modern versions of timbered Tudors, French manor houses, and American colonial homesteads. One of his most striking projects (originally designed by his colleague Henry Corwith Dangler in 1912) was for Northern Trust Bank cofounder and bibliophile Alfred E. Hamill. In the 1920s, Adler tweaked Dangler’s Italianate villa on Mayflower Road in Lake Forest, adding a swooping roofline and a library with bookcases set beneath oeil-de-boeuf windows. But it’s the 75-foot Tuscan tower Adler erected that really takes the cake.
Rising above a staff and garage wing, the structure includes a guest bedroom, a children’s play space, and, most important, a stunning sanctum where Hamill — a sometime poet — retired to channel his muse. Known as the Byzantine Room, the 17-foot-high vaulted chamber is graced with classically inspired frescoes (featuring quotes from Ptolemy and renditions of Zeus and Aphrodite) created by Russian-born artist and set designer Nicolai Remisoff.
Currently listed at $2.05 million, the 6,404-square-foot residence boaststs five bedrooms (all en suite) and amply scaled living and dining rooms. While maintaining the exterior integrity of the house, the home’s current owners, who moved in in 1985, made significant but sympathetic changes to the interiors, relocating and expanding the kitchen, turning the estate’s former gardening room into a 14-by-54-foot family room, and converting a boiler room into a wine cellar. While the grounds are not extensive, the home overlooks Walden Ravine, giving it a great sense of privacy. And from the tower’s rooftop, you can survey Lake Michigan by day and the lights of Chicago by night.