Morton Arboretum buys $5.1M Stahelin house after trying for two decades

The home is surrounded on three sides by the arboretum, which tried to buy it for $4 million in the early 2000s.

3S675 Leask Ln (Zillow)
3S675 Leask Ln (Zillow)

The Morton Arboretum finally managed to buy the former home of real estate developer Leland Stahelin, paying about $1 million more than it offered two decades ago.

The century-old arboretum, whose 16 miles of hiking trails surround the 18-acre estate on three sides, closed on the $5.1 million sale on May 23, according to Crain’s. The seller approached the arboretum directly to sell the home, which was listed in November for $5.8 million, according to Alicia LaVire, a spokesperson for the arboretum, established in 1922 by Morton Salt founder Joy Morton.

Morton’s first expansion in 20 years is “a notch in our holdings,” said arboretum spokesperson Alicia LaVir. “It’s long been a desire of ours as an organization to secure the property so that we could even out our western border,” she said, noting that the arboretum hasn’t decided whether to demolish the home or how to use the land.

The three-bedroom home, in an unincorporated part of Wheaton, was the subject of a legal battle between Stahelin and DuPage Country’s Forest Preserve District that erupted in 2001, when the developer said he wanted to build 11 more homes on the property. The district’s board voted to condemn the property to preserve it and fought in court until dropping the move in 2004. Stahelin owned it and lived there until his death in 2018, the Chicago Tribune reported in his obituary.

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Glen Ellyn-based Stahelin’s Thomas Kolschowsky didn’t respond to a request for comment, and nor did Michael Stahelin, the company’s owner and president.

Built in 1947, the home was owned by Leland Stahelin and his wife, Gladys, who died in 1997. Stahelin worked as a builder and office manager in the city’s western suburbs for seven decades, the Tribune reported, responsible for schools, churches and homes.

[Crain’s] — Miranda Davis

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