Retrospective

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Playboy's Pad

This 5,000 square foot home at 2627 Knob Hill Road in Johnsburg, Illinois included two waterfalls inside the home dating "from the home's 1965 origins as a ... Jamaican style 'bachelor pad' worthy of featuring in Playboy magazine."

See "Water world: Waterfalls and pools make Japanese-decorated mansion a liquid asset." Daily Herald, August 9, 1996.

Little did the author know that the home was featured in Playboy magazine in March 1967. Having met one of the men who commissioned the home (John Behmiller) as a child, I remember the hanging walkway in the home which overlooked the pool room, replete with a lava rock bar (foreshadowing the "Cave Bar" at the Hilton Hotel in Indian Lakes), and waterfalls. Behmiller, in turn, owned resort property in Negril, Jamaica which led to Don's development of "The Rock House" and of the award-winning "Coconut Cove" hotel on the beach near Hedonism Village.

In 1984, Don DePorter, a former executive of Hyatt Hotels purchased what came to be known as "the House of Many Waterfalls." DePorter redesigned the interior of the home, using Japanese artifacts and decor, as his private retreat. DePorter died two years later, at age 54, when the home was sold.

Prior to DePorter's ownership, Dorie Koenig acquired the home on or about 1975. Ruth Dietel, Chicago Daily News, wrote an article entitled "Jamaica on the Fox River," some of which is quoted below:

"Mrs. Koenig admitted that it was easy decorating such a great house."

The house was "a little bit of Jamaica nestled into a hillside along the Fox River . . . [and designed for] a man who liked the Caribbean Isle and wanted a bit of it up North."

"The tri-level house...consists of three cedar shingle domes supporting gently curving laminated beams and capped by [skylights.] The interior is of natural cedar and...cypress with lots of stone and greenery and all those waterfalls. The super-sized boulders used to build the falls came from New Mexico and many of the other materials were imported from such faraway places as Hawaii, Tahiti, Haiti and Jamaica."

I hope that "Playboy" doesn't mind. Featured are a few of their photos (sans adult content) that made this home unique...

But, then, Don Erickson's own home echoes the love of nature, cedar walls, "pagoda roofs," and the green interior while all without is a world encased in snow...

Please contact me, or provide comments on this page, if you would like to submit information that you may have on the work and/or its history. And, if you would like to contribute to championing the preservation of the Don Erickson Legacy, please email me at the address posted under my profile.

4 comments:

R. Johnson said...

Dorie Koenig was my husband's aunt. I was told about the house being featured in Playboy Magazine while we were dating (in the 70's) and had the opportunity to visit the home. I remember being quite amazed by the waterfalls and all the unique features.

Da Band said...

in the mid 60's a group of my friends and I who were in a Rock Band had photos taken at this house. I have several photos of the interior around the waterfall and under it to in the bar. Also on the "bridges" in the house. It was also on the cover of our album

k. janssen said...

My mom was Dorie Koenig. I lived in that house from about 3rd grade to 7th grade. I did have the opportuniy to see it a few times after we moved. I went to see it again with my daughter in the early 2000's and was sad to learn that it had recently burned down. It was quite an experience to live there as a child. It was featured on a chicago news channel and was used as a site for a commercial soot as well as being in Playboy. Great memories of the house and my parents!

Samantha Wobig said...

My grandparents purchased this house when it went up for auction in the late 90s early 2000s... Unfortunately, it burned down in November of 2001 due to an electrical fire, and we lost my Grandma due to the fire.