A Little Time and a Keyboard: Visiting Cuneo Mansion and Gardens in Vernon Hills, Illinois

Visiting Cuneo Mansion and Gardens in Vernon Hills, Illinois

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Visiting Cuneo Mansion and Gardens in Vernon Hills, Illinois

Visiting Cuneo Mansion and Gardens in Vernon Hills, Illinois

Tours of the Cuneo Mansion and Gardens welcome the public to an intriguing estate full of stories, art, unique architectural elements, exquisite furnishings, outdoor sculptures in the gardens and more. Since the mansion is not always open to public, we really felt like we were uncovering rare treasures during our tour.

Cherub sculpture in the gardens at Cuneo Mansion in Vernon Hills, Illinois

The Cuneo Mansion and Gardens is intermittently open for tours and also functions as a venue for events. Cuneo also serves as a filming location. In fact, the estate served as the backdrop for the outdoor wedding scenes in My Best Friend's Wedding. The original mansion was constructed in 1914 for Samuel Insull, one of the founder's of General Electric. So much history in one spot!

Tours at the mansion are self guided. We did receive a little information about the home and the families that lived in it before embarking on the tour. The Insulls were inspired by Italy and so influences of Italian art and architecture are seen throughout the home. Photography is not permitted in the mansion which fuels more inspiration to view the mansion. We were intrigued by each room and learning about both the Insull and Cuneo families as well as the stories of many artifacts and features in the home. Insull had a skylight installed in The Great Hall that could actually open up. The Great Hall looks a bit like a piazza and would be more so with the sky light open. Distinct elements like the skylight abound throughout the home.

The Insulls lost their fortune and home during the Great Depression. John Cuneo, Sr. Cuneo is known as the founder of the Cuneo Press and Hawthorn Mellody Dairy. Inside the library, in fact, you will discover lovely bound books crafted by the Cuneo Press. The Cuneos were very religious and converted a porch into a chapel with incredible stained glass windows. The chapel was consecrated in 1941. A consecrated chapel in a private residence is rare. The Chapel is one of many unique finds within the home including an authentic medieval suit of armour gifted by William Randolph Hearst and a 16th century tapestry.

Christmas decor in the Pavilion at Cuneo Mansion.
Christmas decor in the Pavilion at Cuneo Mansion.
We explored 15 rooms in the home, all decorated for the holidays. The trees in each room were incredible. Since we could not take photos, the only image I have is a Christmasy one from the Pavilion. However, the whole mansion was twinkling with holiday splendor During our tour, we felt like we were in a magical place with all sorts of curiosities to investigate. The Cuneo Mansion is stunning with or without holiday decor and worthy of a carving out some time for a tour. You will not be disappointed!

After our tour, we sauntered a bit in the gardens. The gardens today represent the original Jens Jensen design. You can really feel the history just walking around the grounds.

Today, the Cuneo Mansion and Gardens is owned by Loyola University. The historic home and museum holds many interesting stories that unfold during your tour. Tours are resuming after renovations, so keep this on your list!

To Know:

  • We had to be buzzed in at the gate to enter.
  • No photography is permitted in the home.
  • Tours are self guided.
  • Tours will resume later in 2019 after renovations in January and February.
  • You will enter through the Pavilion which was added by Loyola University.
  • Be prepared to explore!
**Disclosure: No compensation was received for this post. All opinions are 100% my own.
Cuneo Mansion and Gardens in Vernon Hills, Illinois

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