William Day Gates was the founder of the American Terra Cotta Company located in Crystal Lake, Illinois. As such, he regularly interacted with some of the great architects of the Chicago School of Architecture, such as Louis Sullivan, John Root, Daniel Burnham, and George Elmslie. Mr. Gates was also responsible for the introduction of the Teco line of pottery, which successfully sold hundreds of thousands of pots and similar fired clay products during the early 1900’s. Committed to the arts and artisans of the American Arts and Crafts movement, Mr. Gates was instrumental in promoting these designs for the “artistic” home.
Upon his retirement in 1925, Mr. Gates constructed a home which he called “Trails End” on property located nearby the American Terra Cotta works. Early photographs show that he utilized a variety of glazed tiles produced by his former company, and surrounded himself with dozens of terra cotta pots and sculpture, all placed on a beautifully terraced landscape replete with trellises, flowing streams and waterfalls.
In 2011 a client who had previously worked with Eifler & Associates on the restoration of the Balch House in Oak Park purchased the property and retained the firm to develop a long term rehabilitation plan for the building. After many years of rehabilitation, the house has been returned to its former glory, with improved and sustainable mechanical and electrical systems.