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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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