Originally appeared in the Fall/Winter 2021 Gazette
By Joan Evanich & Meagan McChesney
This year, the stunning Italian villa-style home at 5 Indian Hill Road turns 100 years old. Throughout its long history, 5 Indian Hill has been home to several notable Winnetkans beginning with the original owner, Thomas H. McInnerney.
Born in Iowa in 1867, McInnerney first came to Illinois to study at the School of Pharmacy at the University of Illinois. After graduating, he opened a drug store in Chicago. Five years later, he sold the store and went to work as the general manager of Siegel-Cooper department store, where he stayed until 1906.
After a brief stint in New York, McInnerney returned to Chicago and purchased the Knickerbocker Ice Company. Quickly recognizing that unsold ice was melting away, McInnerney started making ice cream with the excess product. The ice cream business, later named the Hydrox Corporation, flourished, becoming the largest ice cream company in Chicago by 1920.
In 1923, Hydrox merged with the Reick-McJunkin Dairy Company of Pittsburgh to form the National Dairy Products Corporation. By the time McInnerney died in 1952, National Dairy had become one of the largest dairy companies in the United States. The company continued to grow, later merging with Kraft Foods.
Records indicate that McInnerney moved to Winnetka between 1917 and 1920. He lived at 430 Elm for several years before hiring noted California architect Reginald D. Johnson to design a sprawling estate on the northern edge of the Indian Hill Club’s golf course.
Early in his career, Johnson was renowned for his Mediterranean style private homes and public buildings. Working primarily in California, some of his more famous designs include the Lotusland Estate in Montecito, the Biltmore Resort in Santa Barbara, Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles, and All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
In 1935, Johnson reached the pinnacle of his career and changed his personal and professional focus. “Humanity became [his] client” as he put it and, through a new social consciousness, Johnson became an advocate for respectable public housing. He spoke tirelessly to improve living conditions for the poor. Two Los Angeles public projects designed and built by Johnson were Harbor Hills and the Baldwin Hills Village, for which he received a prestigious award from the American Institute of Architects. “Wynwyd Estate,” as 5 Indian Hill was originally called, is one of Johnson’s few notable designs outside California.
The fascinating history of 5 Indian Hill extends beyond the house itself onto the extensive grounds surrounding the estate, which were designed by famous landscape architect Jens Jensen. Throughout his impressive career, Jensen collaborated with numerous well-known architects including Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright, George Maher, and Howard Van Doren Shaw. Several properties with Jensen-designed landscapes are listed on the National Register,
including, and perhaps most notably, Henry Ford’s Fair Lane Estate in Dearborn, Michigan. Five Indian Hill was Jensen’s only known collaboration with Reginald Johnson.
Since Thomas McInnerney sold Wynwyd Estate in the 1940s, the property has had several owners and has undergone multiple renovations. In the early 2000s, for example, homeowners Daniel and Debra Gill hired L.A. Rizzolo
Architects to remodel the property and more than double the square footage.
While much has changed at 5 Indian Hill, the character and magnificence of Johnson’s original design has remained. With their own renovations, the Heneghans, the current owners, committed to preserving the historic integrity of the house, ensuring that this 100-year-old property can survive for generations to come.