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John Hughes home headlines Woodlands house walk Dec. 11

Jan Elwart strategically places mug near an old manual typewriter copy John Hughes letterhead desk set up library his home

Jan Elwart strategically places a mug near an old manual typewriter and a copy of John Hughes letterhead on a desk set up in the library of his home, where he wrote many of his most famous works. | Linda Blaser/Sun-Times Media

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Wonderwalk & Holiday Boutique

What: Benefit for Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart financial aid program

When: Holiday Boutique 1 to 5 p.m. and Sip and Shop 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 10 at Woodlands Academy, 760 E. Westleigh Road, Lake Forest; Tours of four architecturally significant homes from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 11, and boutique open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.


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Updated: February 1, 2014 3:36AM

Fans of famed Hollywood screenwriter, director and producer John Hughes will have a rare chance to tour his Lake Forest home — even the library where he wrote some of his most famous works — during the Winter Wonderwalk & Holiday Boutique benefit for Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart on Wednesday, Dec. 11 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Best-known for his films, including “National Lampoon’s Vacation,” “Home Alone,” “The Breakfast Club” and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” the Lake Forest resident died unexpectedly at age 59 in 2009. A private family, the 11,233-square-foot home and its 2.1 acres have rarely been viewed by the public or John Hughes’ fan base.

Woodlands Academy Mothers Club organizers hope the Hughes home’s addition to the four-home-tour lineup spells success for their event.

“It’s a huge attraction,” Mary Oelerich, of Chicago, co-chair of the event, said. “John Hughes has a huge fan base. People love his movies and love all of his work.”

Oelerich and other house walk organizers hope fans will jump at the chance to see where and how Hughes lived.

Winter Wonderwalk is one of the major fundraising events hosted by the Woodlands Academy Mothers Club. Proceeds will benefit the school’s financial-aid program, which provides assistance to nearly one-third of Woodlands’ students. Woodlands Academy is an independent Catholic college preparatory day and boarding high school for young women, and part of a worldwide network of Sacred Heart Schools.

The annual walk has featured some pretty spectacular homes in the past, including the 25,000-square-foot lakefront Schweppe estate in Lake Forest last year. But the Hughes home, at half the size, is the first featured abode with celebrity mystique.

“John Hughes was a very quiet member of the Lake Forest community,” event co-chair Alison Kohlmeyer, of Lake Forest, said. “This home really was not open to the public. He did his work here, filmed his movies up and down the North Shore, but he did not have a big public presence in Lake Forest. People are anxious to come in and take a peek at where he did his work and where he raised his family.”

The first floor of the English Tudor-style mansion will be decorated inside and out by award-winning landscape architect Craig Bergmann Landscape Design of Lake Forest, with an eye to honor the architectural design of Edwin Hill Clark and Hughes’ work and personal life.

Several Woodlands moms have spent the past month researching Hughes to create half a dozen vignettes they will set up scattered throughout the first floor to give a personal glimpse at John Hughes.

In the famed library, for example, a photograph of Hughes with good friend and actor John Candy and Steve Martin sits on a desk along with a manual typewriter, a copy of “The Count of Monte Cristo” and a piece of recreated John Hughes letterhead.

“We learned he loved old typewriters and had a collection of about 30 to 40,” Jan Elwart, of Lake Forest, said.

The women discovered Hughes sometimes used a pseudonym, Edmond Dantes, a character from “The Count of Monte Cristo.”

“That was a real interesting, ‘Aha,’” Chris Denniston, of Lake Bluff, said. “We learned he was very close friends with John Candy and from what we understand, the Hughes’ and John Candy’s family spent time together. John Candy’s death (in 1994) was a sad event for them.”

“We also learned how prolific he was,” Amanda von Marwijk Kooy, of Barrington, said. “People will say they know him from ‘Home Alone’ or ‘Christmas Vacation,’ but when you look at the depth of his work, it’s just incredible.”

Hughes either directed, produced or wrote the screenplays of approximately 42 movies.

Landscape architect Craig Bergmann and his team have big plans for a complete holiday-themed decoration of the home’s first floor.

“We like taking the romance of an old home and making it feel like you’re almost stepping back in time,” Bergmann said.

All items used in decorating the Hughes home will be for sale.

“It will be really, really beautiful and festive,” Linda Hewitt, nursery manager, said.

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