Class Notes

Reconnection to Deerfield

February 19, 2015

Almost a year ago, I presented a Paper to The Chicago Literary Club ( on three Chicago sisters named Monroe. A minor point made by me in it related that one sister, the widow of the famed Chicago architect, John Wellborn Root, rented a house, for the Summer of 1892, in Deerfield, for herself, her several small children and a house servant or two. Because she was sickly, both her sisters visited her, and, as Mrs. Root’s two sisters were great letter writers, and some of their letters are were preserved in accessible Chicago libraries, one knows their timing and their family concerns. Why Deerfield, other than the known fact that agriculture in Deerfield had been in a severe depression since the opening of the Erie Canal, and rentals there were cheap? Chistopher Monkhouse (’65), now of the Art Institute of Chicago, and Susan Flynt, who has written a fine book on the Arts & Crafts Movement of Deerfield, provided the necessary clues: Madeline Yale Wynne, a key figure in that Movement, spent Winters in Chicago, as a neighbor to Mrs. Root’s family home. Moving in the same social circles, the three sisters and Mrs. Wynne had to have become close friends. Deerfield was an excellent place, in which to escape the rigors of a Chicago Summer that was on the eve of The World’s Columian Exposition. One Monroe sister – Lucy (later Mrs. W. J. Calhoun, wife of the Amderican Minister to China, appointed by President Taft, used her 1892 time in Deerfield to write for publication, in the New England Magazine, both on Deerfield and on the new Art Institute of Chicdgo, designed by Boston’s famed architectural firm of Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge, which firm is credited with having been the Architect for the restoraton of Deerfield’s Frary House. These are not intellectual roads down which I, even, thought of venturing, when I was a student at the Academy, some 65 years ago.

John Notz