Originally appeared in the Spring 2021 Gazette, by Holly Marihugh
Lincoln Avenue sits in the heart of Winnetka and includes residential houses, restaurants and shops, and even the stalwart Winnetka Community House. But there’s a beloved tourist attraction on the street as well: a brick Georgian built in 1920 by Architect William Aitken. Even after 30 years since it gained notoriety, the house still draws onlookers like a magnet. Have you guessed yet?
It’s the “Home Alone” house, the scene for the uber-popular movie starring Macaulay Culkin as 8-year-old Kevin McCallister. Accidentally left at home while his family vacationed, young Kevin staved off robbers from entering his house through hilarious capers: dropping a pet tarantula on the nose of one robber (actor Daniel Stern) and tricking another (Joe Pesci)into grabbing a red-hot, sizzling door knob with his bare hand. Kevin also roamed around the Lincoln Avenue neighborhood and appeared in other familiar North Shore settings like the Hubbard Woods Park ice skating rink and Trinity United Methodist Church in Wilmette.
As you know too well, we’ve been cooped up in our houses for what seems like forever. So, the WHS Gala Team decided to tie in the story of the movie with our own personal plight by creating our annual fundraising event this year with the theme, “Home Alone Together.” We’ve all been at home, so let’s celebrate at the Virtual Gala by remembering the adventures of a young boy who got left all by himself at a now famous local house.
The WHS Gala on June 10 will headline a presentation by filmmaker John Newcombe, creator of the “Winnetka Story” documentary, who grew up in town and now lives in California. In it, you’ll watch new interviews with John and Lauren Abendshien, the father-daughter duo who lived in the house during the making of the movie. You’ll also hear from movie extras who appeared in familiar local settings.
Last December, there was a rash of 30th anniversary stories about “Home Alone,” and Lauren Abendshien, now a Chicago attorney, talked about her memories to the hosts of “This Morning” show in London.
“I remember the scene where the robbers are trying to go from the third floor of the house to the tree house along a rope and then Kevin cuts it,” Lauren said in the interview. “They all go swinging down and hit the brick wall of the house. I watched them film that, which looked very treacherous, but of course they have stunt doubles who know very well what they’re doing.”
Herb and Joanie White still live across the street from the “Home Alone” house. In a WGN television interview, the couple said that they think the enduring appeal of the movie has to do with its emphasis on forgiveness, healthy reunions, and the importance of family.
We’re looking forward to seeing you at our “Home Alone Together” Virtual Gala 2021 on Thursday, June 10, 7 – 8 pm. ■
Sources: This Morning: “Home Alone 30 Years on: Woman Who Grew Up in McCallister House Shares Memories,” 12/7/20, www.itv.com/thismorning.
WGN News: “Neighbors of ‘Home Alone’ house share behind-the-scenes video of iconic movie 30 years after its release,” 12/13/19, www.wgntv.com