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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Lakewood Farm - Lakewood Forest Preserve


In 1937, Malcolm Boyle (1897-1959), a wealthy Chicago contractor, purchased several farms near Wauconda totaling 1,250 acres to create Lakewood Farm.

The rolling topography of Lakewood Forest Preserve (formerly Lakewood Farm).
This view is of the Stockholm addition to Lakewood Forest Preserve, 1989.
Boyle was at the tail end of a movement of influential Chicagoans who retreated to the countryside to build estates and operate farms, mainly from the 1870s to 1920s. These farms were known as “gentleman farms” because the owner’s hired farm managers to run them.

Many gentlemen farmers were executives or owners of Chicago businesses, or the children of prominent Chicago families. Their farms transformed the landscape of Lake County from homesteads with traditional white clapboard farmhouses to estate houses with elaborate gardens designed by famous architects. Among these farms were Arthur Meeker’s Arcaday Farm, Grace Durand’s Crab Tree Farm, Robert Leatherbee’s Brae Burn Farm, and Malcolm Boyle's Lakewood Farm.

In 1939, Malcolm Boyle registered the name, Lakewood Farm, for his working farm with the Lake County Recorder of Deeds. It became a showplace with Guernsey cows, pigs, horses, extensive orchards, gardens and grain production.

Wauconda's Independent Register wrote in 1938: "[Boyle] has remodeled the buildings and is making extensive improvements on the property, including an artificial lake."

Boyle renovated a pre-Civil War house on site
 into a country home. Since 1986, this building has been
 used for the museum's archives and library. 
One of the existing buildings Boyle improved was a pre-Civil War house. Boyle renovated it in 1938 into a lovely country home, and in 1986 when the Curt Teich Postcard Archives was donated to the museum, the house was adapted into an archives.

This barn was built in the 1920s and renovated by Boyle circa 1938.
This image is from a Lakewood Farms booklet printed, circa 1965,
printed by Howard Quinn, the property's next owner.
The ponds on the property were enhanced and landscaped by Synnetsvedt, and Boyle dredged a wetland to create Banana Lake and then stocked it with fish. He reportedly planned to dredge a small canal from Banana Lake to Bangs Lake in Wauconda (a distance of about one mile).

In 1953, Boyle’s Guernsey “Hagan Farms Merry Song” won a prize at the International Dairy show. The cow had notably produced 15,000 pounds of milk the previous year.

Silver tray trophy "Champion Northern Illinois Jr. Parish Show
Curtiss Improved Stud Service 1956."
For Lakewood Farm, Wauconda. LCDM 2009.21.2
In July 1961, Howard Quinn, owner of a savings and loan in Chicago, purchased the property. Quinn made many improvements to buildings, and in farming and breeding methods for his registered Guernsey and Angus cattle. He also constructed a Butler building  to be used as a loafing shed for cows waiting to be milked.

Known by its manufacturer’s name, the Butler building was a pre-engineered metal building. 
Beginning in 1968, the Lake County Forest Preserves used it for storing vehicles. 
In 1977, the Chicago Bears practiced here before they had a permanent facility in Lake Forest.
 The building was razed in 2010.
In 1965, Quinn was convicted of defrauding the government. According to the Chicago Tribune, the property was to be sold to "recoup losses from Quinn's handling of savings and loans funds insured by the federal corporation."

The Lakewood Farm property was one of the first sites designated by the Lake County Forest Preserves' for acquisition. In 1968, the land was acquired, and the farm buildings used to store equipment.

Prize bull barn as seen circa 1965.
This structure would be adapted as the museum's lobby and gift store.
The Lake County Discovery Museum opened its doors at Lakewood in 1976. Previously, the museum was located near Wadsworth on Route 41. Several of the original Lakewood Farm buildings were adapted for the museum’s exhibit galleries, collections storage and administrative offices. The museum will be moving in 2-3 years to Libertyville where it will have larger exhibit galleries, and be able to provide increased access to educational programs and to researchers utilizing collections.

Today, Lakewood Forest Preserve totals more than 2,600 acres, making it the largest preserve in Lake County. During the next couple of years the Lake County Forest Preserve’s planning department will develop a master plan for Lakewood, which will consider how the complex of buildings at Lakewood will be used. This master plan will be approved by the Forest Preserves Board of Commissioners.

4 comments:

faryal naaz said...

Great site! I am loving it!! Will be back later to read some more. I am taking your feeds also.
Chicago contractor

aajer said...


Wonderful Blog..beautifully crafted!

RE: Lakewood - As of this writing, the future of the suite of buildings looks dubious.

Surely, the buildings and site have significant historical and cultural value in

midst of our rapidly vanishing architectural heritage. It seems a community concensus

must be achieved before they may be preserved. Ac

tivism is needed here!!

John Maxson said...

Although his influence predated Mr. Boyle's, Samuel Insull owned many thousands of acres in the area and had ambitious plans for Lake County. Visiting Lakewood Farms gives a person appreciation for what our area became when Chicago exploded into the suburbs, developers established huge subdivisions, and the availability of water, electricity, natural gas, transportation, and, perhaps most of all, open space, made the county attractive to young families. Mr. Insull, whose "gentleman farm" became the Cunio Estate and now Loyola University in Libertyville, is mostly gone, but Lakewood lives.

aajer said...




As of May 2 2016, The Lake County Forest Preserve administration has determined that
The Discovery Museum and The Lakewood suite of farm buildings is not "sustainable" and has been incrementally diminishing it as an entity over the last few years with the ultimate goal being to demolish it beginning September 2016. All this with very little public oversight or input. A public hearing on the fate of Lakewood has yet to be held. Interest and concern for Lakewood is urgent and wide ranging as evidenced by this Mchenry County Historical Society article:

http://www.mchenrycountyhistory.org/historic-farm-added-states-endangered-list

Landmarks Illinois has recently listed Lakewood as one of Illinois most endangered sites:

http://www.landmarks.org/pdfs/li/Lakewood%20Farms%20(Wauconda).pdf

A group of concerned "Friends Of Lakewood Farm" are now organizing and circulating a
A petition to demand the Forest Preserve freeze any further actions impacting the Lakewood site pending one or more public hearings and further study and input from independent experts.

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/SaveDiscoveryMuseum2016/

If you are interested in being involved contact:

Adrienne Doherty- aaaaaaajer@gmail.com

As of May 2 2016, The Lake County Forest Preserve administration has determined that
The Discovery Museum and The Lakewood suite of farm buildings is not "sustainable" and has been incrementally diminishing it as an entity over the last few years with the ultimate goal being to demolish it beginning September 2016. All this with very little public oversight or input. A public hearing on the fate of Lakewood has yet to be held. Interest and concern for Lakewood is urgent and wide ranging as evidenced by this Mchenry County Historical Society article:

http://www.mchenrycountyhistory.org/historic-farm-added-states-endangered-list

Landmarks Illinois has recently listed Lakewood as one of Illinois most endangered sites:

http://www.landmarks.org/pdfs/li/Lakewood%20Farms%20(Wauconda).pdf

A group of concerned "Friends Of Lakewood Farm" are now organizing and circulating a