Coming Home to Barrington

Builder Greg Crowther Turns Homeowner Dreams into Reality


story by Melanie Kalmar | Photo by Jim Prisching

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Long before he founded Great Haven Builders, a residential design build firm in Barrington, Greg Crowther was a kid who liked to tinker. For kicks, he would disassemble and rebuild motorbikes, ATVs, and go-karts or spend hours in his neighbor’s woodshop building things. He and his brothers, Bob and Bill, had fun exploring the wide open spaces near their childhood home in The Coves subdivision of South Barrington. He fondly recalls spending summers sailing on the neighborhood lake.

“It was a great place to grow up,” he said. “It was very rural, open farm fields, gravel roads.” A corporate executive, Crowther’s father Bob’s career took the family to Ohio, where Crowther, the middle child, was born. Next came Michigan, then New Jersey, before the family settled in Barrington in 1974. While the boys were young, his mom Marilyn, “Lyn,” stayed home with them. Later, she worked for many years in the office of Dr. Bruce Bell, a Barrington family physician.

The two grain silos in the Crowther’s side yard marked the entrance to The Coves subdivision. Crowther remembers his bedroom overlooked a fenced-in area where the neighbor’s corralled their horses. In the backyard, he and his brothers fashioned a basketball court from an old barn floor.

Crowther started second grade at Saint Anne Parish School, where he played basketball and other sports, and had a special connection with his teacher, Mrs. Bradley. He stayed at Saint Anne through 8th grade, and graduated in 1985 from Barrington High School.

A High School Job

“A local friend of ours had a construction company,” Crowther said. “They built homes in South Barrington, did additions, renovations. There were lots of new homes back then. A lot of open space in that area. I worked for them in high school, pushed a broom, and progressed my way up in the trades to rough and eventually trim carpentry. I learned on the job.”

Crowther continued working in construction while home on breaks from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. He met his wife Lynn when her parents, Joe and Lucille Tomek, moved into the house across the street from his. They dated throughout college and married in 1990, after graduation.

Crowther earned an associate’s degree in construction technology and a B.S. degree in advanced technical studies. An extension of the construction technology program, advanced technical studies focused on what it took to run a business, with classes in accounting, business management, design, and engineering. Lynn earned a degree in Communications from the University of Wisconsin in Madison and had her own business after college, a background that serves her well helping him manage the day-to-day operations of Great Haven Builders.

Beautiful architecture adorned with masonry and limestone welcomes you as you enter through the gated front yard gardens to the front entryway.

The summer before college graduation, Crowther and a friend started a business, designing and building decks and screened-in porches for clients in South Barrington. Little did he know that decades later, a sprawling Barrington estate built by his next company, Great Haven Builders, would be pictured on the pages of “Architectural Digest” and billed, “The most beautiful home for sale in Illinois.”

Newly wed, Crowther gained valuable experience his first six years post-graduation, working in many facets of the construction industry: custom homes, shopping centers, multi-family residential, as well as production home building. Production homes are typically built on large tracks of land where customers choose from pre-determined home designs and standard options, he said. “I was a construction operations manager for a large home builder that, in the early 1990s, built 1,500 homes a year in the Chicago area. I gained tons of good experience with these opportunities. It led to my interest in high-end custom homes.”

From employee to entrepreneur

He eased into entrepreneurship by leaving his full-time employer to do consulting work for 18 months, for a senior living facility in Lake Forest. “It helped me get my name out there and become established,” he said. In 1997, he took a chance on himself and launched Great Haven Builders.

“It’s great to be able to craft something by hand and see the fruits of your labor when you’re done,” Crowther said. “You’re turning someone’s dream into a reality and you can take pride in it. Home building is an intimate process. You develop a lot of emotional attachments. You meet great people and develop lifelong friendships.”

The family room has an open floor plan with 10’ ceilings throughout allowing many design possibilities.

Left: Morning room. Right: Enjoy the sunlight through the oversized windows in the morning room or relax on your private outdoor balcony.

Great Haven’s newest project is “407 East Main,” a 12-unit boutique condominium development in downtown Barrington. Exemplifying the changing face of Barrington, 407 East Main brings all of the features, finishes, and amenities you find in a high-end custom home to maintenance-free living, Crowther said. The units have 10-foot high ceilings, crown moldings, wide plank floors, and quartz countertops. Custom add-ons range from fireplaces to beamed ceilings, custom millwork, floor warming, smart home technology, and more. The heated parking garage with elevator guarantees you won’t have to warm up your car in winter. Condos start in the $400,000s and include the services of a professional interior designer. Pre-sales are going on now. Crowther anticipates breaking ground this summer and delivering homes in the fall of 2019.

“Today’s market has changed,” Crowther said. “407 East Main is in response to what people are looking for in a home—a smaller, luxury space, but amenity-rich and in walking distance to the downtown area and steps away from the Metra rail. It’s less upkeep. You’re able to use your time for yourself, your family, and friends, not so much for shoveling snow and keeping up your lawn.” He said the condos are perfect for professionals commuting downtown, young families entering the area, and “rightsizing” empty nesters or retirees. “As a small business, we can be flexible and move in the direction the market has taken.”

He said Barrington gives homeowners the best of both worlds, an urban downtown and a country atmosphere with proximity to highways, the city, and shopping centers. It’s close enough, but far enough away. He always strives to do his best for the customer and for himself, for that feeling of pride in a job well done.

From success to significance

Working in a philanthropic community inspired Crowther and wife Lynn to support the Barrington Area Community Foundation, an endowment used to fulfill unmet needs of nonprofit organizations within the area that qualify for grants.

Joined by their son Ryan, 21, and daughter Erin, 18, both college students at the University of Dayton in Ohio, they also support Hope’s In. A nonprofit organization founded in 2012 by Barrington High School students, twin sisters Ashley and Courtney Quigley, Hope’s In supports Potter’s House, a nonprofit that provides medical care and builds cinderblock homes for families living in Guatemala’s garbage dump communities.

“They live amongst garbage in tin houses with dirt floors and tarps for roofs,” Crowther said. “We took a couple mission trips to Guatemala for Hope’s In with our kids in 2014 and 2015. It’s a nice mentoring program. Kids lead the organization to raise funds by hosting an annual fashion show, and the money goes to Potter’s House. Erin was an event chair and learned how to raise money, learned about philanthropy.”

The first time the Crowther’s built a 20 ft. by 20 ft. cinderblock home with concrete floors, a tin roof, and a steel door, the builder was awed by the experience. “When you talk about all of these fantastic estates we’ve built, all these great homes we’ve built, and how blessed we are building here, to give them a decent living environment, it’s the best house we’ve ever built for somebody. It was a great life lesson for all of us,” he said.

The family continues to support Hope’s In through donations and sponsors a Guatemalan child they met who lives in the first home they built in the garbage dump community. “We sponsor her so she can attend Potter’s House School, which provides education and at least one good meal a day. It’s a safe environment for kids to go to during the day while their parents are out working hard for them.”

Running his own business, Crowther works seven days a week. “It’s not a set schedule,” he said. “You’re engaged and it’s your life.” He and Lynn live in Deer Park. They make time to walk their dog, Koda, a Brittany Spaniel, at Cuba Marsh. An outdoorsy bunch, the family enjoys spending time together on family trips. Recently they visited Southern California during winter break, taking in the sights at Joshua Tree National Park and off-roading through the desert of Ocotillo Wells. When not spending time with his family, Crowther enjoys cycling with the Barrington Bike Club.

Coming full circle, the customer he did consulting work for when he started his business has hired him again, this time to complete a campus expansion at their senior living community.

“You always have to work hard,” he tells Ryan and Erin, who will soon be forging their own career paths. “Be excited about what you want to pursue and you’ll pursue it with passion. When you love what you do, it’s pretty easy to do it.”

Great Haven Builders,, is located at 112 Wool Street, Suite #200 in Barrington. For a peek at its newest project, 407 East Main, visit

Other New Properties in the Barrington Area

The 101 West kitchen view.

101 West

Monroe Residential Partners’ new 64-unit luxury rental apartments are located at 101 W. Libery Street in downtown Barrington. There are 15 different floor plans. Ameni- ties include a gym, public indoor space to rent for parties, outdoor space with firepit and seating, bike storage, a dog walking area, enclosed parking, and pet friendly. Learn more at

Deer Park Crossing’s kitchen view.

Deer Park Crossing

Reva Development Partners LLC is building 192 flats and 44 luxury townhomes called Deer Park Crossing at 21599 W. Field Court in Deer Park (near the Deer Park Town Center).

There are 3-bedroom plus den town- homes, as well as 1-2 bedroom apar- ments. Some townhomes are available now; more in March. Amenities include a clubhouse, pool with deck and cabanas, outdoor fire pit and fireplace, fitness center, pet friendly, dog park, media lounge, bocce ball court, concierge service, and a private dining room. Learn more at

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Melanie Kalmar is a freelance writer specializing in business and human interest features. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with her family.