181, 191, and 199 Sheridan Road

Gazette Article by: Cindy Fuller
Appeared in the Gazette: Summer 1998

House of the Season: Three Revival Styles Grace Sheridan Road

Sunday drives along Sheridan Road to view some of this country’s most elegant real estate is a long-standing tradition for visitors and residents alike. The three houses located at 181, 191, and 199 Sheridan Road never fail to turn heads. Three distinctly different homes with a hint of family resemblance make quite an impact.

Their story begins when builder John Mills purchased three hundred feet of lakefront property. Permits were issued in 1927, and Mills spent a reported $650,000 to construct three elaborately landscaped houses. The compound also includes a six-car garage, chauf-feur’s quarters, and a cabana. The houses were to be for Mills, his daughter and son, and their families. It is speculated that the depression prevented them from living in their dream houses.

A July 1933, issue of the Winnetka Talk reported the sale of the estate to P. J. Hursen, who purchased it for himself and his married children. Mrs. Thomas McElroy, wife of the noted furrier, lived at 199 Sheridan Road for a number of years.

Although the family history of these houses is well documented, not much is known about the architects, listed on the building permits as Sloan & Johnson. What they created are richly decorated examples of different architectural styles. Close proximity and similar scale, elegant stonework, half-timbering, and gnomes tucked around the property tie them together as a group.

The southernmost house, 181 Sheridan Road, is a Mediterranean Revival with buff-colored brick and limestone. The red clay barrel-tile roof is typical of the style, as are the arched doorways and windows.

The central house at 191 Sheridan Road, is a more formal French Normandy style. The rounded turret containing small arched dormers is a charming feature. The steeply pitched, flared, slate roof, herringbone patterned brickwork, limestone banding, and bas relief carvings create a rich interpretation of this style.

On the north, at 199 Sheridan Road, is a Tudor Revival house with leaded glass windows, heavy half-timbering, and decorative chimney pots. The living room was designed on a grand scale. A two-story, wood-paneled great room with a barrel-vaulted ceiling, it completes the picture of the house as an English manor.

Even though the houses now are owned by unrelated owners, they have changed very little. This “family” will endure for future generations of Sunday drivers to admire.

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4 Responses to “181, 191, and 199 Sheridan Road”

  1. February 11, 2016 at 2:22 AM #

    Why was 199 torn down & replaced with a over sized mega mansion ?
    Knew the McElroy’s , Hursen’s & Hueth’s who owned & lived there for
    many years ! Am sure Mrs. McElroy must be flipping in her grave @
    what happened to her beautiful house ! Such a shame ! The whole
    compound lost something by what’s been done !

    • Tane Beecham February 16, 2016 at 10:06 PM #

      Donald – thank you for your comments. And yes, we would agree that the integrity of the compound and the significance of the 3 homes was compromised by this demolition.

      Currently, there is no ordinance in place to stop a demolition… only to slow it down. Winnetka’s Landmarks Preservation Commission asks for a Historical Architecture Impact Study (HAIS) in 10% of all demolition cases. 199 Sheridan was subject to an HAIS. And indeed this study makes note of the concern that because the home was built as a part of a larger estate, its removal would adversely affect the other two Mills’ properties.

      We have a copy of the HAIS and would be happy to give you a copy if you are interested.

      Let us know if we can be of any further help to you.

      Tane Beecham

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  3. July 21, 2017 at 3:52 PM #

    199 Sheridan belonged to Thos. and Merlie McElroy for decades. Tom McElroy’s sister lived in the middle house and the south house was at times rented. Supposedly Col. Robert McCormick was a renter at one point. Can’t swear to that. Tom McElroy was a furrier in Chicago and many decades later, in Winnetka under the ownership of Greg McCarthy, whose father purchased the business after Tom McElroy’s death in the early 60s.
    Tom McElroy was my father’s uncle. I have memories of visiting the home twice as a child: once to use the beach on the property, the second time the water was up to the seawall and therefore, no beach. It was a grand house with only two bedrooms on the main floor, but four small staff bedrooms above the kitchen. It is a huge shame that it was torn down. Winnetka needs to beef up its historic preservation ordinances.

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