East Meets Midwest
Wetlands and waterfalls on Chicago’s western frontier.
By Cathy Jean Maloney
When Sara Furlan first saw Jon and Missy Butcher’s property,
it had a house, a gravel driveway, and acres of corn and soybeans.
“Two crop successions were harvested while we were developing
the design,” reports Furlan, a landscape architect with Mariani
Landscape, which directed the design and installation project.
Photo Courtesy Mariani Landscape
The site is in Kane County, a far outlying community in the Chicago
area, where rural scenery makes a last defiant stand against ever-encroaching
urban sprawl. He who plows under soybeans better have a darn good
replacement in mind. Furlan and the Butchers thought they did.
The Butchers bought more than 100 acres of land for a family compound.
Their own house, sited on 26 acres, contains flat farmland, natural
wetlands, and a bit of woods. Jon Butcher, a successful businessman
and artist, designed the house himself. Its sleek, sparse style
and its buff-colored walls blend gracefully into the prairie. But
inside, its 17,000 square feet are fully computerized such that
all electronics can be turned on or off at will. This technological
marvel, once featured on the Oprah show, combines both
simplicity of operation and elegance.
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