Piper hall

This home was designed by architect W.C. Zimmerman in 1909 to exact specifications of Cassie Wheeler. She and her husband Albert moved to Chicago in 1906, when he was offered the position of Chief Engineer of the yet-to-be-built Chicago Tunnel System. The Wheelers lived in the home until 1917, when the Albert Johnsons bought the home. Mundelein College acquired the house in 1934.

The contractor was A. Lund, who built the home for $30,000. It is constructed of Vermont statuary marble. The exterior is unchanged except for the removal of the porte cochere on the west side of the building. That side entrance now serves as the main entrance.

The design of the fa├žade is similar to the Downey home, with a covered front porch to the left side and an open terrace to the right. At this location, the open terrace extends around the building, along the side, offering beautiful views of the lake. The Wheelers had a sea-wall built to protect the site which extended north and jutted out into the lake. The marble exterior has survived the harsh shoreline storms quite well over its 82 year history.

The interior space remains the same on the first floor. Mundelein removed the walls of the second floor bedrooms in a library expansion in the 1940s. The third floor is used for offices, but once contained servant’s quarters and a ballroom. The original building held an elevator which was electrified in 1948.

The long entrance foyer extends to the back of the house and creates a dramatic setting for the cathedral oak staircase. At the landing of the stairway is a beautiful Tiffany window depicting a woodland scene. This woodland theme is carried out in the decorative carving of the woodwork which gives the home the feeling of a German Baroque style.

The living room on the right, as you enter from the front, is wide and spacious. The ceiling is carved plaster. On the lake side it has bay windows with window benches. Facing south is a row of five windows not unlike the windows in the Downey Residence. The normal set up of this room would be smaller groupings of chairs and couches. The fireplace is the central element of this room.

The living room opens into the dining room which is paneled in mahogany wainscoting. There is a hidden panel which you will be shown. The ceiling in this room is coffered gold leaf with a border of gold, silver and copper. The dining room windows, facing the lake, have a beautiful grape vine design.

Off the dining room is a breakfast room with circular domed ceiling and five large windows. The painted woodwork is cherry because it is resistant to moisture. The tile floor features a grape leaf design. The circular format allows for views of the lake, both north and east.

Behind the staircase is a butler’s pantry, servants’ dining room and kitchen, with the original white tile walls. A small hallway connects this room to the front foyer. The side entrance hallway has the original intercom system, the elevator and a small room which was Cassie Wheeler’s office.