A Classic Beauty: The American Farmhouse

Many North Shore houses reside on land that used to be farmland.

Illinois, our beloved Prairie State, is made up of thousands of acres of land running from the base of Wisconsin to the Kentucky border.  As the nation expanded westward, farmers settled on this land, starting in the late 1600s through the late 1800s. It was the American dream to own a piece of this land to make a home and life. After doing a bit of research, I discovered that in fact my own home was built on what was at one point, my neighbor’s yard (i.e. farmland).

Situated on these beautiful farms throughout Illinois, we find the American Farmhouse. Utilitarian in nature, they acted as the epicenter of the working farm; with formal rooms for living and entertaining, as well as kitchens and pantries that were strictly functional for the daily work.

The key architectural features of the Farmhouse include dormer windows, covered porches, and an exterior painted white. With simplicity at work in the overall design, the American Farmhouse evokes a down-home Americana feel. Timeless in nature, Farmhouses have remained steadfast despite changes in fashion and design throughout the years; becoming the singular most popular housing style in America.

They are humble, modest, unpretentious and unadorned—and there are numerous examples of the American Farmhouse on the North Shore. They provide us with a splash of the pristine, whitewashed, simple American dream. Situated besides Tudors, Colonials, and Victorians, the gleaming white farmhouses stand out.

Long-time Wilmette resident Norman Iverson and his family thoroughly enjoy living in an American Farmhouse.  He says, “It has good curb appeal; lots of windows, and plenty of sunlight.” He goes on to say, “Like our nation, it has been pieced together over time by a variety of people. Its roots go deep; our first floor is held up by tree trunks that were probably grown near here. The back wall has support timbers—stripped logs really—that bear the notches from when they were part of a log building dating from before the original 1880s construction of this house.”

The North Shore affords many of us the opportunity to live in a piece of American history. Forgoing the ‘bigger is better’ mentality so often found with homes, settling into a charming white Farmhouse may be just what the doctor ordered.

About the author: Lifelong North Shore resident Danielle Dale graduated from New Trier and the University of Rochester with a B.A. in Philosophy in ’98.  A passion for interior design, architecture and real estate, are the primary sources of inspiration for her writing.  If you know of an architectural style you would like to read more about in Make It Better, please email Danielle at [email protected].