Set on an expansive wooded property on the shores of Lake Geneva, this home is a stately and beautiful reminder of the elegant grandeur of the 1920s. While portions of the original estate, including the stables and greenhouses, now form separate residences, this architecturally-significant historic home continues to grace our lakefront, preserved to perfection. It stands today as a tribute to a bygone era of Old World craftsmanship, recently restored and enhanced by a modern-day master craftsman with a passion for historical renovations.
Trevor Parks, whose luxury home building and remodeling firm bears his name, has worked on many historic homes throughout his career and will travel far and wide for the right home and challenge. Based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the noted renovation expert and his team of craftsmen spent almost a year working on this Geneva Lake home, laboring alongside select local tradesmen to integrate old and new with seamless success.
The vintage brick and limestone clad house stands at the end of a long formal drive, which traverses a spring-fed creek and winds through gorgeous landscaped grounds with mature trees and perennial gardens. Guests arrive to a large English-inspired circular courtyard, created around a spectacular vintage fountain and surrounded by garden florals and greenscapes. On either side of the home, superb lake views invite exploration; but, first, all eyes are on the absolutely stunning, picture-perfect historic home before them.
Bluestone steps lead up and into a limestone arched and covered entranceway. Ahead, a grand hand-carved hardwood front door opens to the showcase of beauty and creativity inside the home. The landmark residence had always been lovingly maintained throughout its near-century-long history. But its current owners knew it required modern enhancements and energy-efficient improvements if it were to stand the test of time for subsequent generations. They also knew renovation would have its share of challenges. The original 1920s home had been expanded on several occasions, and in places, its original interiors had been adapted for other uses. They wanted someone who could restore the home with historical integrity, knowledge, and passion.
[metaslider id=”1401″] Parks met the challenge, and then some.
“You never know what you are going to find with historic projects. You often have to peel back the layers to get to lost beauty. In this home, we had to get through some un-craftsman-like work from the 60s and 70s, and from there we had some tough decisions to make,” said Parks.
“I had hoped we could save the original floors, but there were just too many areas which had been terribly compromised over time.” Parks explained. “Rather than mix and match, we decided to replace the floors and subflooring. I used walnut floors with a historic look and a caliber to last.”
Parks noted that almost every room of the house was addressed with restoration or mindful renovation, including baths and kitchen. Among his most exciting finds was original stonework that had been plastered over and hidden for generations. He also unearthed unsalvageable original millwork – but was nonetheless able to replicate it with historic accuracy in his own workshop. He restored or recreated the original hardwood doors too, many with unique curves and shapes. And he spent many hours on the intricate woodworking that frames the original living room fireplace mantel, as well as the millwork surrounding the library’s original stone fireplace. The resulting beauty is a true tribute to the home’s fabled and fabulous history of comfortable living and entertaining.
“What people see today is only half the story, as so much went on behind the scenes, too, from our re-piping of every original cast iron radiator to removing all the dangerous knob and tube wiring.” Parks explained.
New and rebuilt vintage windows in every room frame awe-inspiring lake and nature vistas. Heated tile floors in the once-drafty sunroom are among the many heating and plumbing improvements throughout the home. Parks’ team was even able to flawlessly hide and integrate new technology in the walls for security, audio-visual and remote control needs. The list goes on… and the end result is extraordinary.
Parks’ renovation talents and knowledge, augmented by the design prowess of the owner, has created a like-new home with classic lines and interiors thoughtfully interwoven with historical elements and inspirations. The charm and character of the historic lake home remains beautifully intact – yet now it is further enhanced with modern-day comforts and improvements that are the year-round delight of its owners, and their family and friends who visit often.
“It has been a big project, of course, but really it’s been a privilege to work on such a special home and make sure it lasts another hundred years,” concluded Parks.
Trevor Parks can be reached at email@example.com.
Photographer: Grant Goldenstern
By: Julie Morse