Family builds coolest house in town
John Wiltshire-Gordon (Top, left), 23, and his brother, Skip (Right), 15, with the help of many of their friends and relatives built a huge igloo in front of their Wilmette home. The family has built an igloo just about every year, but this one is the big
Updated: February 11, 2013 6:52AM
For your real estate viewing pleasure: building with second floor patio balcony, architecturally daring circular indoor ramp and stunning central great-room in fashionable east Wilmette.
It’s really cool.
No, really; it has to be cool. Otherwise it melts.
Until it does, the two-story igloo on the Wiltshire-Gordon lawn at 1116 Greenwood Ave. will not only draw the wondering gaze of passing adults and gleeful visits from neighbor children, it will continue a multi-year practice of igloo construction by the Wiltshire-Gordon family.
“It’s a great tradition,” Skip Wiltshire-Gordon said last week.
Starting in 2008, Skip’s older brother John, now 23, would enlist the help of siblings like Skip, now 15, sisters Virginia and Maisie, now 18 and 21, respectively, and their assorted visiting cousins and friends. Together they built successively more ambitious igloos; using recycling bins to make blocks, and learning the secrets of how to make snow packable (work when it’s a little warmer, or water powdery snow to make it work.)
“We like doing it. We build a lot of stuff together,” Skip said, noting that the family also assays ambitious sand castles in the summer. This year’s project, completed between Dec. 26 and 28, was no different.
“One of the best parts is when people walk by,” Skip said. “Sometimes it’s sweet little old couples, sometimes it’s little kids; they all comment on it.”
Skip credited John, who studies mathematics at the University of Michigan, for planning the structure each year. This year’s effort followed a one-year moratorium caused by last Christmas’s warm weather.
“We were waiting for this year, and on Christmas morning, when it began to snow, we were all very excited, because we knew we could do it again,” Skip said.
John – convinced that the 2012 attempt had to be multi-story – roughed out a plan for a central pillar to support the structure, standing in a high central room. A second lower room leads to an interior ramp that winds around until it opens onto a second story patio.
“The hardest part was keeping our footing on the ramp (which ascends nine feet in a spiral), because it got very slippery,” John said last week. Although grown men can easily stand in the center room, John admitted venturing elsewhere inside forces one into “something between a crouch and a crawl.”
The view from the patio, which is somewhere about six feet above the ground, is worth a trip up the ramp. The igloo was a hit with neighbors on New Year’s Eve.
Skip and John didn’t say what they have planned for next year, but it’s a safe bet that Greenwood Avenue real estate will continue to be very, very cool next holiday season.~.