North Shore Views
Whenever we drive by the Schmidt- Burnham log house on Willow Road, my 8 year old says, “Look Mom, there’s where you went to school when you were a kid.” The first time she said this she was 5 or 6 and she really did think that it was an old one-room schoolhouse and that I had, in fact, gone to school there. Now, it’s just a little joke between us, a way for her to rub it in how old I am.
I think a lot of the people that drive by there every day don’t even know the story behind this little house. They probably don’t realize that it is the oldest standing structure in Cook County outside of the city of Chicago. The house was built around 1837 and was the home of the Schmidt family, immigrants from Germany. Originally the house was located on the Green Bay Trail, near what is now the corner of Winnetka Avenue and Church Road.
Anita Willets Burnham, a local artist and writer, purchased the home in 1917 for $25 and had it moved to 1407 Tower Road. It was later donated to the Winnetka Historical Society by her daughter and moved to its current location in Crow Island Woods. Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005, the house is now open to the public and offers a glimpse into life in early Winnetka.