Monday, March 15, 2010
Although my father designed Indian Lakes Hotel, in Bloomingdale, Illinois, and such award-winning buildings as “The Round House,” the building that he loved the most was his own home in Barrington, Illinois.
My parents first purchased our property when I was seven years old. The land was vacant until I was eleven, at which point my parents had raised sufficient money to build their first Don Erickson home. Until then, we spent many summers in Barrington, where Dad designed and we built a tree house which spanned between four oak trees whose branches rose, cathedral-like, in the woods. We flew balsa-wood airplanes, crafted with our Dad, which had noisy, little engines which had a mind of their own. Our first airplane landed in the trees, flaying like a bird with a broken wing, the engine sputtering until it was out of fuel.
Mom would use a scythe to cut-down the expanse of weeds, and we would have family picnics. My parents would dream about where to build their house; on top of the hill, overlooking the expanse of land and the neighbor’s pond below? Or nestled in the woods where it was more private, leaving the ten acres of land to let wild raspberries grow. . .
Our first house originally had a flat roof with skylights – the floor plan was a long, one-story expanse of brick and wood…Brick which we helped to lay under the tutelage of our father, wood which we helped to stain. Just one year after moving in to our now-completed home, a tornado ripped through our property and lifted up the roof to the home, as if it were balsa wood, to send it sailing into the woods below. Undaunted, Dad redesigned the house, using the same floor plan, but this time he added his “Jamaican” roof; four, huge wood beams that curved upward into air, anointed by a skylight. I remember lying in my bed beneath the skylight in the “coach house,” and watching the stars above, feeling the expansiveness of nature. I lived in a home that invited nature in as if to say, “I am a part of you.”