Kathryn (Kat) and Bill Linville had been living in Lincoln Park, a well-known Chicago neighborhood near Lake Michigan, when they decided to move out towards the suburbs. The two grew up in Indiana—Bill in Speedway, and Kat in Noblesville—and met on a Ball State semester abroad program at London University in England. They’ve been together ever since.
They were in the Barrington area looking for property, seeing the beautiful and modern dwellings, when one home made a lasting impression. Ironically, it wasn’t a ready-to-move-in option. The historic Andrew Dallstream home and land on Brinker Road was somewhat of a discouraging sight for a property. Built in 1930 and neglected since 2017 when the Dallstream family moved out, over-grown bushes and shrubs crowded the 90-year-old home’s exterior, and the layout of the home, and while a grand, 6,000 square foot home with a four-car garage, it would need to be significantly updated. For some, this property would be seen as a tear-down.
They looked over the property two or three times and went through a lot of soul-searching before making their decision to buy it in August 2017. During construction, Kat and Bill rented an apartment in Hoffman Estates. They managed to finish the majority of the work and move in by Thanksgiving 2018.
They knew that the home was designed by Robert Work, the architect for Barrington Hills Country Club. Another buyer might decide to tear the home down. Yet Kat and Bill saw a country dream home for their retirement, and for the whole family. Kat could have her organic vegetable and flower garden. There could be a swimming pool, and treehouse for the youngsters. They would feel honored as stewards of the land’s virgin oak savanna. Their two grown sons and grandchildren would have a place to join them. Their imagination was a new foundation for this home. This would become the project of a lifetime and eventually, a dream come true.
The couple turned to Chicago architect Brian Milbury who helped plan the huge rehabilitation of the home. Together they discovered last century construction with two-foot-thick concrete foundation walls that prevented the house from any settling. They flipped the garage around and removed a submerged oil tank that fed the heating system after pumping out the remaining oil. They also found two gigantic water tanks in the ground. They discovered behind some upstairs walls that a fire had occurred and left damage to the wall’s studs. The fireplaces and chimney were in perfect condition. The home was nearly a fortress.
Upon entering the front door, guests would find a bathroom on the left that doubled as a dressing area and guests would continue down the hallway to a living room. Kat and Bill reconfigured that large living room on the first floor as their master suite, complete with a fireplace.
There are two stairways off the main entrance of the home. Gracefully curved steps lead to the second-floor bedrooms, and another stairway that appears more utilitarian is tucked away near the kitchen. This is where house staff lived and would head up to their rooms after the duties of the day.
The sitting room of the Linville’s new home, formerly the home’s dining room, is a centerpiece that remains generally unchanged and is reminiscent of the gracious living of days gone by. A bay window looks southwestward to the expansive back acreage. A crystal chandelier remains in place, as does the soft, shell pink wall colors that were carefully matched when repainted.
The original kitchen was an old-style galley with swinging doors in place to separate the dining room from the kitchen. Kat and Bill had those doors removed for a simpler pass between the kitchen and sitting room. They expanded this part of the home to lengthen the kitchen and open up a large family room.
The property beyond the home presented challenges and important decisions. The forest around the home is an ongoing project that requires buckthorn removal and the evaluation of the health of majestic oak trees. One of those decisions was to bring down a black walnut tree that impeded construction plans. The couple decided to use the wood from that tree to create the furniture in the photos (next page)—a cabinet, shelving, and a long dinner table and bench seats. The wood is beautiful and a constant reminder of honoring the land.
While living in Lincoln Park, Kat had met Jeanne Nolan, owner of The Organic Gardener, while volunteering at a demonstration garden. Kat had read Nolan’s book and collaborated on involving more young residents to learn about hands-on gardening.
Today, Kat says the abundance from her garden feeds the family. The large organic garden offers a variety of flowers for the home. Kitchen waste is composted and repurposed for the plants. In the summer, the family eats almost entirely from the wide variety of produce. Fruit crops include pears, peaches, apples, cherries, grapes, raspberries, and strawberries. Vegetable
crops include potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, sugar snap peas, watermelon, asparagus, and pumpkin squash. Kat cans pickles and pickled beets. There are drying racks with pull-out shelves for basement storage of vegetables.
The property was extended outward to incorporate an inground swimming pool and outdoor kitchen. The couple added a pergola from the home above a patio. A walkway leads to the pool which features fountains on each side. Native plants add layers of color and surround the pool and fire pit gathering area. For their grandchildren, a ladder invites a climb up into a constructed playhouse.
Kat reflects on her decision to move to Barrington Hills and take on the
major projects involved to rehabilitate her new home. “I knew I’d enjoy living here,” she said. “But I had no idea how much I would love it. It’s so peaceful and so great for our family.” Bill sees the home as a great success and one equipped well for aging in place: “There’s such reward, so much satisfaction, to bring this home back to a good condition, and not have to make too many compromises along the way.”