This is the largest single family home ever built on Geneva Lake. Stone Manor is probably the most famous Lake Geneva Estate, and often mistaken as the Wrigley Mansion. Otto Young, who began building it in 1899, originally called the mansion Younglands. Although he was from a wealthy family in Germany, when Mr. Young came to the United States in the mid 1800′s he was virtually penniless. He started out by selling costume jewelry from a pushcart on the sidewalks of New York City. But during his lifetime, he amassed a very sizable fortune for himself and his family.
After the Chicago Fire of 1871, he moved to Chicago where he invested every dime he could scrape together in real estate under the burned out city. Many thought that Chicago would never rebuild after the devastation of the fire, but Otto Young saw the opportunity. Much of what he bought is known today as the “Loop”. At the time of his death in 1906, a conservative estimate of his fortune was set at over $25 million.
Plans for the home had originally been more modest and a $15,000 budget was set, but with many elaborate additions the price skyrocketed to closer to $2,000,000 which was an astronomical amount of money over 100 years ago. There are seven levels in all at Stone Manor. Two sub-basements, four main levels and a roof terrace. Set off by a 250-foot wide veranda the mansion stretches 174 feet as it faces the lake and is 70 feet deep.
The exterior walls are dressed in Bedford limestone, the floors are hand laid parquet tile and the interior walls are Tennessee marble. When completed in 1901, all of the doorknobs, plumbing and electrical fixtures on the main level were 14kt gold plated, with matching solid sterling silver on the second. Ceilings in the mansion are hand-carved out of mortar and lavishly decorated by imported European artists with breath-taking oil paintings.
On the main floor was a beautiful ballroom, complete with crystal chandelier, huge mirrors, and ornate pink marble fireplace. The hand carved dining room table could seat 100 guests. Also on the main floor was a parlor, library, music room, game room, butler’s panty, and a vast kitchen.
The second and third levels were basically bedrooms and bedroom suites. The fourth floor was designed for recreation and even contained a gymnasium and a miniature golf course. Originally the roof was a garden, but there have been some changes throughout the years, including a rooftop swimming pool. Even the two level basement was elaborate including a three-lane bowling alley, jewelry vault, huge laundry and drying rooms and a monster coal storage room with a double boiler system. The lowest level was used for ice storage. In the winter they would harvest large blocks of ice from the lake and store them for summer use as a primitive air-conditioning system.
Otto Young only enjoyed the home for 5 years before his death, but the mansion remained in the family until 1939 when Young’s granddaughter presented the home and about 8 acres of surrounding land to the Episcopal Church to be used as a private school for girls. Unfortunately, the school failed financially after a few years and financial problems have followed ever since.
In the early 1960′s the mansion was taken over by Walworth County for back taxes. A tax auction was held and it was bought by a developer for just $75,000 in back taxes. Since then, several million dollars have been spent in the restoration of the building. In the 1970′s the main level was transformed into an elegant French restaurant known as Stone Manor Inn. The restaurant experienced financial problems and was forced to close. Next came the Christmas Tree Museum. Most recently it was purchased by another Chicagoan and converted into 6 luxury condominiums.