1350 North Milwaukee Avenue, Vernon Hills, IL 60061
They make no mention of the beauty of decay.
The Cuneo mansion and gardens are a lot like you and me. There are some areas in need of a little work. But there are many areas that look like a dream made into reality. The Cuneo mansion and gardens are a work in progress, always evolving, moving toward perfection—a living thing—a lot like you and me.
In conversation with a few friends about the Cuneo mansion and gardens, everyone was quick to add that they knew all about the Cuneo mansion—so well from driving past it almost every day.
But they never actually made a visit to the Cuneo mansion.
I was one of those people. Was. I became determined to see and experience the luxurious lifestyle, perhaps not so simple, stemming from the successful Cuneo Press publishing company.
Although the mansion and gardens were constructed for Samuel Insull, the founder of Commonwealth Edison, the Cuneo family later purchased the property and made it their own. Many years later the Cuneo mansion and gardens were donated to Loyola University Chicago. Self-guided tours take place most Fridays and Saturdays during the mild months. Check the links at the end of this post for more information and photos.
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“It felt as though we traveled back in time as we moved forward toward the mansion.”
It was late spring when my mother, Lisa and I arrived to tour the Cuneo mansion and gardens. Spring was late. The gardens were filled with bright green foliage, colorful blossoms and the damp chill from winter’s last gasp.
The grounds were well kept. We could almost picture the activity that used to take place on the garden paths, at the swimming pool and among the impressive statues leading up to the mansion. It felt as though we traveled back in time as we moved forward toward the mansion.
This was a self-guided tour. It was also the second Saturday of the month, which turned out to be the free day. It had been some time since tours were offered at the Cuneo mansion. We felt very fortunate to experience a glimpse into the past and the lively lifestyle of the Cuneo family.
We walked through the gardens and stepped onto the plaza. A doorway was marked as the entry point for self-guided tours. Everything seemed logical and proper.
A security guard greeted us at a handicapped-accessible entrance. He proceeded to hand out self-guided tour booklets and give a brief overview of the mansion and which way to go. It almost felt a little like we should make ourselves at home. This was most welcome.
The interior of the Cuneo mansion was unbelievable; yet, we were there and it was real. The impressive Great Hall was designed to resemble a Mediterranean palazzo in Italy. I could almost smell the briny Mediterranean air and hear the bustle of an Italian square.
“It almost felt a little like we should make ourselves at home.”
What followed was an easy stroll through the private life of the Cuneo family, room by room, marked by the distinct personality and purpose of each new discovery. It was remarkable how free and easy the self-guided tour came to be, and how appropriate—not opulent—the furnishings and style appeared in agreement with the wealth of the Cuneo family. I actually felt happy for the Cuneo family that they created a large home, nice lifestyle and donated the mansion and gardens so that we could enjoy their success if even just for a day.
I would love to visit the Cuneo mansion and gardens at different times of the year. I am sure that every day the mansion presents herself differently to each guest by the changing seasons.
The Cuneo mansion and gardens is located at 1350 North Milwaukee Avenue, Vernon Hills, IL 60061. A small black metal gate and guard shack with a telephone await your arrival on the west side of Milwaukee Avenue, north of Route 60 in Vernon Hills just south of Libertyville. For more information click Cuneo Mansion & Gardens
To see more photos of the Cuneo mansion, visit my Adobe Spark photoblog at Adobe Spark – Cuneo Mansion & Gardens.