Crab Tree Farm

Lake Bluff, Illinois

Crab Tree Farm is the only operating farm located on Lake Michigan in the State of Illinois. Originally a commercial dairy operation, over the last thirty years the farm buildings have been transformed into a private museum of Arts and Crafts furniture and decorative arts. VHA has worked closely with the farm's preservation-minded owner, providing master planning services and executing multiple architecture projects.

VHA's work includes a new guesthouse that takes its formal cues from the historic barn buildings.  Nearby, an existing barn was converted into a lodge to house a collection of Gustav Stickley furniture. Other projects include a steel footbridge along a nature trail, a "three-quarter house" designed around the owner's collection of 18th century miniature furniture, and a triangular lakeside viewing pavilion.

Crabtree Farm Guesthouse

VHA's design for a guesthouse, swimming pool, and detached poolhouse completed in 2010. Designed for the owner's adult children and their families, the complex features a double-height living room, multiple bedroom suites, kitchen, dining, and play spaces. 

A four-story observation tower provides a view over the adjacent historic dairy farm, where VHA has executed numerous restoration and expansion projects over the past two decades. 

The massing of the new residence was inspired by the Beman-designed dairy buildings nearby, while the contemporary material palette, expansive interior spaces, and careful detailing reflect the project team's desire to create a contemporary building well-suited to its setting.

Crabtree Farm Lodge

In 1996, Vinci|Hamp Architects was requested to convert an existing barn outbuilding into a lodge to house a collection of Gustav Stickley (1848 -1942) furniture. The 1½ story building, measuring 30' x 73', is one of five structures that comprise a former dairy complex designed by noted Chicago architect, S.S. Beman.

The existing structure consists of a slab on grade, clay tile walls covered with stucco, and a steel-framed roof with cement roof tiles. These defining features were retained, however, the building’s original caretaker quarters were demolished. The new spaces that were created include a double-height “lodge room” with oak paneled walls and millwork, a large fieldstone fireplace, vaulted ceiling and a Stickley-derived decorative scheme.

Overlooking this main space is a mezzanine with a small theater equipped with a state-of-the-art video projection system and seating for twenty. Adjacent to the lodge room is a kitchen, built in a 1920’s style, equipped for catering large events including an authentic range, sink, and cabinetry.

A small bedroom and bath complete the building. VHA worked closely with the owner and an historic interiors consultant in the finishing of the spaces and the layout of furnishings, all selected from the owner’s extensive Stickley collection.

Crabtree Farm Bridge

Crabtree Farm Triangle Pavilion

Three-Quarter House


Structural Engineer: Enspect, Inc.

M/E/P Engineer: IBC Engineering

Lighting: Randy Burkett Lighting Design

Landscape: Wirtz International

Photographer: William Zbaren and Judith Bromley