Sunset Point was the summer retreat for Chicago’s “Gentleman Gambler,” M. J. Tennes. He had established the General News Bureau, which wired race results to bookmakers across the country, operated gambling establishments in Chicago, and ran floating gambling and off-track betting parlors aboard luxury ships in Lake Michigan. He built Sunset Point as a summer estate, occupying eleven acres at the tip of the two-mile-long peninsula jutting into Catfish Lake. Tennes commissioned the Nedveds of Chicago to design the estate. Rudolph Nedved had won the 1926 Chicago Architectural Award, which paid for travels to England and France to study architecture. He patterned this rambling, 12,000-square-foot estate after rural medieval farmhouses in Normandy, France. A steep clay-tiled roof shelters walls of cut stone, false half-timbering and stucco, and shingles. Wall dormers lighting the upper story create a lively interplay of gables, and a conical tower is next to the entrance porch. Bird perches and built-in birdhouses peek out from under the roof’s flared eaves. Some 250 custom birdhouses dotted the estate and enhanced the naturalistic landscape that Swain and Nelson of Chicago created. Their work included lawns, shrubs, pines, statuary, stone walls, and a stone bridge. The Nedveds also created a coach house and a two-story boathouse—including a ninety-seat chapel upstairs—which juts into the lake.
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M. J. Tennes Summer Estate, “Sunset Point”
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