Rural Retreat: Bunker Hill Farms


2015 Merit Award


McHenry, IL


230 Acres


Private Owner



Landscape Architects

Project Details

Bunker Hill Farms is a 230-acre privately-held recreation and charitable function facility in McHenry County, Illinois. Planned and constructed primarily from 2007 to 2012, the former agricultural site has been transformed to contain a number of recreational features balanced with conservation areas and naturalistic landscapes. The goal was to create a place of outdoor beauty that could be used for private recreational use, as well as serve as a setting for large-scale charitable events benefiting the local community.

A model for post-agricultural rural land use and conservation, Bunker Hill Farms is unique in that the amount of acreage offers the opportunity for an intermingling of programmed and passive recreational activities with mindful stewardship of the land. By the same token, the master planning of the site allows for flexibility should the use of a particular area change.

The property transformation included a multi-story lodge with underground parking and a rooftop garden to capture significant views. Site amenities range from RV camp sites to beaches for swimming and boat launches; as well as the creation of an 18-hole golf course. To navigate the site, a 3.5-mile road system and multi-use recreational trails utilize five bridges, including 350 feet of timber bridge over wetlands and streams. To enhance and create topographic features, the project involved the movement of approximately 1 million cubic yards of soil. Fill from the excavation of a 12-acre, 60-foot-deep lake was used to create a ski/recreation hill. As well, an existing 2-acre lake was reshaped into a 4-acre lake with waterfall features to control flooding and establish on-site stormwater storage.

Being mindful of the area’s glacial history and resulting topography, the design of the site takes cues from naturally occurring hills, knolls, streams, and lakes to create a place of beauty and remarkable recreational opportunities. Low-key structures, used minimally throughout the site, add to the sense of openness and connection to nature. Indigenous materials such as lannonstone are used extensively, as well as native plantings where appropriate. The landscape plan included the planting of 15,000 trees of various varieties, including fruit trees and sugar maples for future syrup harvesting. The design is a mix of ornamental plantings in high-visibility spaces and the creation of conservation and ecological restoration areas.


Project Team: American Hydrotech, Inc.; Doomis Custom Builders; Greengard Inc.; Hey and Associates, Inc.; Stan Leonard Designs

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