Upcoming Programs

Inside The Devil in the White City


It’s the 122nd anniversary of the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893, an event that changed history!

Retrace the footsteps of the heroes and villain of the Devil in the White City, the best-selling story of good and evil at the  World’s Fair. What events led to the passionate endeavors of Daniel H. Burnham and Frederick Law Olmsted to create a mini-new world honoring Christopher Columbus? And how does the riveting counter-point story of the nefarious Henry Holmes, just a few short miles away from the fair, reveal the darker side of the ‘Gay ’90s’? Explore with Barbara Geiger how  a marshy mess evolved into the site of the event of the century, how Burnham’s and Holmes’s paths might have crossed, and how the legacy of the fair still lives on.

6 pm (cocktails at 5:30) on Thursday, November 19
Woman’s Athletic Club (private event)

Inside The Devil in the White City–Evanston Connections
1 pm on Tuesday, March 15, 2016
Woman’s Club of Evanston (private event)

Downton Abbey: Centuries in the Making


The soap opera began hundreds of years before Edith wrote her letter to the Turkish ambassador! Yet the aristocratic way of life that had evolved at places like Downton Abbey was declining by the time we first meet the Crawleys in 1912. How did a few families come to own so much English property? Why did Robert’s family need him to marry an heiress like Cora? And why do places like Downton Abbey (Highclere Castle in real life) look the way they do? Learn about the landscape designer, land ownership patterns, and inheritance laws that produced great estates like Downton, and why radical changes were inevitable.

12 noon on Friday, April 8, 2016
Park Ridge Pan Hellenic Club (private event)

Historic Landscape Restoration workshop at the Campbell Center

FWH frontAs significant as structures but more of a moving target, historic landscapes are key components in the character of a place and containers of its history. This course is an introduction to the fundamentals of preservation and restoration of cultural landscapes from small gardens to larger public spaces. Topics include assessing a site, archival and site research, formulating an approach, choosing plants, and developing a plan and schedule for implementation. Class time will be divided between covering the principles indoors and applying them to an outdoor site. This course will be useful to site managers and directors, gardeners and landscape designers, and restoration architects who work, or wish to work, with historic properties.

April 20-22, 2016 at the Campbell Center for Historic Preservation Studies in Mt. Carroll, IL; http://www.campbellcenter.org/#!historic-landscape-restoration/c18hu


The Dawes House Grounds: From Victorian to Prairie; Evanston History Center, October 22, 2015  Charles Gates Dawes–whose career included serving as vice president of the United States, ambassador to the Court of St. James, and winning the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on WWI reparations–bought 225 Greenwood Street in Evanston in 1910. He hired prominent landscape-gardener O.C. Simonds to bring the grounds up to date. Find out how and why Simonds transformed the Dawes House from Victorian gardenesque to the more naturalistic and subtle Prairie style.

In Good Spirits: Chicago’s Graceland Cemetery; Des Plaines Public Library, October 21, 2015; Vernon Area Public Library District, October 22, 2015   The place for Chicago’s Gilded Age movers and shakers to spend eternity, Graceland Cemetery is a beautiful oasis in the heart of the city. Learn how this special burial ground came to be, how it relates to the city’s history, and discover the story of its founders and its principal designer, O.C. Simonds. One of the earliest sites to be planted with native Illinois flora and planned in a flowing, peaceful, naturalistic style, Graceland influenced the design of many other “prairie style” cemeteries, parks, and private landscapes.

Generating Change: Windmills in the Midwest; Crete Public Library District, October 12, 2015   The Chicago Aermotor Company was the world’s largest windmill manufacturer in 1900. And water-pumping windmills were a big deal back then. They enabled westward expansion into areas where there was little groundwater—they actually changed the United States. Learn about the types of 19th century windmills and how the steel-bladed Aermotor revolutionized the industry. Meet the company’s founder, LaVerne Noyes, whose intention was to save farmers from hard labor, and who built his own stone mansion on Lake Shore Drive next to the Potter Palmer castle.

One-Day Bus Tour: Rockford, Illinois; Driehaus Museum, September 26, 2015 First, a visit to the newly-opened-for-tours Laurent House, a small Usonian gem by Frank Lloyd Wright and his only residence designed from scratch to accommodate accessibility needs. Lunch at Anderson Japanese Gardens followed by time to enjoy this exceptional place on your own. Barbara Geiger is the study tour leader, providing content and context as we ride to Rockford.

Arts and Crafts: The Antidote to Industrialization; Des Plaines Public Library, August 26, 2015  There was no stopping the industrialization of the Western world in the late 19th century. But a group of artists and architects did what it could to counter-balance the loss of soul by harking back to the Middle Ages. Art critic John Ruskin, designer and printer William Morris, and painter Edward Burne Jones sought to bring back a medieval, individualistic approach to crafts like printing and furniture making, and to arts like painting and ceramics. Garden designer Gertrude Jekyll and young architect Edwin Lutyens combined their talents to produce environments that looked centuries old. This program explores the history of the Arts & Crafts movement in England and in the U.S. We’ll consider whether or not it was successful, and why are we still charmed by these creations more than 100 years later.

Downton Abbey: Centuries in the Making for the Evanston Woman’s Club, Evergreen Park Public Library, Chicago Rare Books, Kenilworth Clippers

The Landscapes of Jens Jensen for the Palatine Public Library

Graceland Cemetery walking tour for the Wisconsin Hardy Plant Society

Millennium Park walking tours for “Experiment in Architecture” groups, Illinois Institute of Technology