BARRINGTON HILLS – In 1939, newlyweds Thomas and Esther White strolled onto a property at 170 Old Sutton Road in Barrington Hills.
They immediately loved the land.
As horse owners, the 42-acre farm looked like the perfect place for this North Shore couple to raise not only horses, but a family.
Suddenly, the walk around the property took a nasty turn as shots rang out. The owner of the farm had a son, and that son was shooting at the Whites.
Recounting this story, their son, Lowry, laughs.
“They actually never saw the inside,” he said. “The listing said indoor plumbing so they thought it couldn’t be that bad.”
Despite their violent welcome to the area, the couple bought the home and moved in a year later. The house remained with the Whites until their deaths: Thomas in 2011 and Esther in 1994.
According to Lowry, the house today is much different from the building purchased by his parents almost 75 years ago. It was built in the 1830s, and the Whites began renovating it before even moving in.
“Over the years, the house was added onto a jillion times because my mother liked adding onto it,” Lowry said. “At one point there was a guest house on the property. Originally, it was a groom’s quarters but at one point they had a carpenter that lived there. My mother kept him pretty busy with adding onto the house.”
It wasn’t because of the growing family. The Whites only had two sons, Lowry and his brother, Thomas III. Esther just liked making the house bigger.
“They added another wing as the children were born for the children, they added a three-car garage and a breakfast room,” Lowry said. “They added what became a library and a dining room. They had an indoor pool. Just little by little, she kept sort of branching out on the house. It became one of those rambling country houses.”
Lowry added that when his parents purchased the property, there were 13 buildings on it.
Although Esther added continuously to the main house, the family tore down most of the others. The current living space in the home is over 4,000 square feet.
There were two main activities that could be found at 170 Old Sutton. The first was breeding race horses.
The couple bred horses for decades, and raced their horses throughout the state, including at Arlington Park race track.
Lowry said his father owned horses until his death at age 97.
His love of horses fit perfectly with the family’s other hobby: hunting. He was part of the Fox River Valley Hunt, where members in bright red coats would ride horses and hunt foxes, using hounds to lead the way.
The Whites’ property was home to as many as 22 hound couples during World War II. The dogs lived in the converted chicken coop.
“I remember them being rather noisy,” said Lowry, who was born in 1944 and doesn’t have many memories of them, as the dogs were moved to a new home after a few years. “I have a feeling they got noisy and my mother said, ‘I think I’ve had enough hounds.”
Thomas White moved up the ranks in the hunt club, becoming Joint Master of the fox hounds in 1954, then Master in 1957.
After Thomas died, it came time for Lowry and his brother Thomas to pass the home along to the next family. As a result, the house is back on the market after almost three quarters of a century in the White family. The house is listed by John Morrison through Barrington RE/MAX for $1.98 million.