Log House History

The Schmidt-Burnham Log House was built in the 1830s and is named for the Schmidt family, who emigrated from Germany in 1839 and lived in the historic house, and also for the Burnham family, who called it home from 1917 to 2001. Research indicates that the Schmidt-Burnham Log House is the oldest log structure in Cook County still in use. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the c. 1837 Schmidt-Burnham Log House has been open to the public since 2006.

Learn more about the structure of the Schmidt-Burnham Log House and other log houses HERE!

The Log House was built as part of a German immigrant settlement on the Ridge Road near today’s Indian Hill Country Club and several generations of the Schmidt family lived in the house from 1839 until the 1870s. Anita Willets Burnham “discovered” the Log House while on a painting trip in the spring of 1914.  She purchased the home in 1917, relocated it to 1407 Tower Road and restored it to its original condition, adding two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a kitchen. Members of the Burnham family resided in the Log House until 2000. The Schmidt-Burnham Log House is distinguished as the only home in the area to be continuously occupied for nearly 165 years.

Anita Willets-Burnham

After Anita’s death, her two daughters lived in the home until their deaths in 1978 and 2000. The Winnetka Historical Society then inherited the home and relocated it to Crow Island Woods to save it from demolition.

In June of 2005, the Schmidt-Burnham Log House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The National Register is the Nation’s official list of cultural resources worthy of preservation. The basis for the listing was the significance of Anita Willets Burnham’s life as an artist and writer.

Gazette articles about Anita Willets Burnham: 
Anita Willets BurnhamSummer 1999
Hope Amidst Hardship: The Indomitable Character of Anita Willets-BurnhamFall 2020

Read more about moving the Log House from Tower Road to its current location in Crow Island Woods HERE!

Since its grand opening in September 2006, Winnetka teachers have been enthusiastic about incorporating this piece of living history into the fourth grade immigration curriculum. Learn more about how the Schmidt-Burnham Log House has been incorporated into school curriculums HERE!

Gazette Articles about the Log House:
Burnham Log House: 170 Years of LivingSummer 1999
Ann Hibbard Burnham SmithFall 2001
Schmidt-Burnham Log House Opens to PublicFall 2006

View photos of the interior of the Log House below.


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