‘Big White House’ remembered fondly
This 100 year old house at 2140 Sanders Road in Northbrook was part of Hee Haw Farm, a five acre exotic animal farm. An office building now covers the land. Photo courtesy of Robin Elliott-Bear Collection.
When was your house built?
Updated: August 13, 2012 1:22PM
Robin Elliott-Bear of Northbrook remembers 2140 Sanders Road as a rambling 1970s homestead.
“I have so many great memories of the Big White House on Sanders as many people called it,” said Robin.
Hee Haw Farm was home to Rich and Joan Elliott, where their three daughters Robin, Bunny and Roxie enjoyed freestyle horseback riding and a pool with diving board plus blue curved slide. The near six-acre spread nurtured llamas, wallabies, wooly monkeys, peacocks, a turkey, horses, deer, a ram and oodles of cats. Barney, the six-foot white llama, was famous.
“Every time I pass the site,’ said Judy Hughes, Northbrook Historical Society president, “I catch a brief glimpse of it (white house) in my memory and think how I wish I’d had the opportunity to walk inside (to) feel the texture of the wooden banister worn down by generations of hands gliding across its smooth surface.
“Oh, the wonderful memories it must have held.”
Said Robin: “When we first moved there, it was falling apart.
“My dad is very handy and worked on it (with friends) while we helped by handing him hammers.
“We were always working together. My family is very close and I attribute it to living there and the life we shared,” said Robin. “There were weeds in the pastures as tall as me and we all worked together to trim and pull them so we could use the pastures for the horses.
“The summers were, of course, a favorite time,” added Robin. “Barbecues, pool parties with volleyball tournaments…”
Robin, still of Northbrook, has two children with her husband Greg. Their son Johnny, 15, is a Glenbrook North High School sophomore. Daughter Tyler, 13, is a Wood Oaks Junior High School eighth-grader.
“I will always remember how our German Shepherd Heidi would go to the back door and stand and wait when we said, ‘Heidi, Daddy’s home.’
“Every year at Memorial Day, we would load up Polly the Pony to a cart with lunch and supplies and ride as a group to a spot near Golf Road (where) we would play softball and have lunch.”
Added Robin: “I remember unloading truck loads of hay into the top of the barn through the hay door.
“My dad was out of town so he left me in charge...I sent the company $1,500 in cash through the mail!”
“There was a back door that we used and entered the house through the kitchen so it was always a meeting place. It had a back staircase up to our rooms.
“I haven’t seen a house like it yet,” said Robin.
Of the exterior: “It was an awesome home with a big circular driveway entrance, two tall pillars framed the front doorway.”
The house had a winding staircase in the entryway., Robin said, with a large dining room to the right.
“We often had 25 people for Christmas dinners that my mom cooked herself.
“Five bedrooms, mine had two doors,” said Robin, of her home which featured “two and half baths, a living room where we always watched John Wayne movies, and a library which you walked through to get to the family room that looked out to the pool.
“I laugh as I think back to the library, as we called it. It housed the Pac Man game! We rarely played it because we would rather be outside. This sure makes me realize how much times have changed!”
Of their menagerie: “My sister Roxie used to walk out of the kitchen/porch doorway after school and call ‘Here kitty kitty,’ and they would all appear and follow her up the barn stairs to be fed, a picture I can’t forget,” said Robin. “It was helpful as we never had mice!”
An office building sits where the Big White House once was.
“My mom tried everything to get the house to be a landmark,” laments Robin.
Pioneer Press Photo Editor (then photographer) Geoff Scheerer took the 1986 snapshot of the home’s demolition.
“Pioneer did a story and ran a picture of the bulldozer going through the front,” said Robin.
“It stunk having to watch it. I remember it like it was yesterday.”