A Tale of Two Barons in Vernon Hills, Illinois | Midwest Living

A Tale of Two Barons in Vernon Hills, Illinois

A century-old mansion in Vernon Hills, 35 miles north of the Loop, showcases two owners’ contrasting sense of style.
Cuneo Mansion.
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Entrance to Cuneo Mansion.
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In 1914, Samuel Insull was riding high. His company Commonwealth Edison flourished, thanks to a bustling economy, so he built an Italianate estate among towering pines. Inside, he infused the home with his English sense of style: massive fireplaces, dark wood paneling, carved wood moldings and a library built from a reconstructed 18th-century ship captain’s quarters.

One stock market crash later, John F. Cuneo purchased the estate from bankrupt Insull and added opulent details: moulded plaster ceilings painted with bright frescoes, extravagant pieces of art and formal gardens with fountains.

Today, Loyola University owns the mansion and surrounding 100 acres. (It’s named Loyola University at Cuneo Mansion and Gardens.) Groups of 15 or more can take docent-led tours. Not part of a group? You can also get onto the estate through community-minded classes, like Plant Propagation for Beginners. (847) 362-3042; luc.edu/cuneo

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