A "Belle Epoque" Event at the Ragdale Gala and Preserving a Gem of a Park!

The beautiful grounds of the Ragdale Estate in Lake Forest will be the site of the Ragdale Gala on Saturday June 13.  The Gala supports Ragdale, an artistic environment located at the Ragdale Estate, where each year as many as 150 designers, architects, writers and other artists-in-residence enjoy a supportive workspace and freedom from distractions; encouraging synergy, exploration, and creativity.

The Ragdale Estate itself, designed by the renowned Howard Van Doren Shaw as his family’s home in 1898, is a nationally recognized example of the Arts and Crafts movement.  Numerous examples of Shaw’s work exist in Lake Forest, distinguished by exquisite landscaping design resulting from his collaborations with Jens Jensen.  His other unique achievement in Lake Forest was the design and completion of Market Square, the first planned Shopping Center in the United States!

The set piece for the Gala is the Ragdale Ring, a creative, temporary outdoor theater environment, and for the 2015 Gala the competition to design and build the Ring was won by a firm called Design with Company.  Their model is shown above.  They will be honored at a special VIP reception prior to the Gala, with special participation from Chicago’s own Lucien Lagrange. 

It is fitting for Lucien Lagrange to have a role in the Ragdale Gala, he and Shaw are both iconic craftsmen who include European elements into their work:  Shaw as an American influenced by his travels overseas, Lagrange as a native European influenced by his time in Chicago, the cradle of American architecture.  Here is Shaw’s 1916 Mentor Building in the Loop, with a separate design motif in the base, middle, and top showing the European influence as opposed to the repeated Chicago-style window motif of a building like the Reliant Building.

Another similarity is that both Shaw and Lagrange create sophisticated designs that please even the most demanding clientele.  In fact, five of Lucien’s buildings are members of the Top Ten high end residential buildings in Chicago, with a condo in his Park Hyatt building, shown above with his Lincoln Park 2550 and modernistic Erie on the Park, recently selling for an eye popping $18.5 million!

Speaking of pleasing high end buildings, combined with the buzz for this weekend’s Belmont Stakes horse race, I have my own Triple Crown of listings on the Magnificent Mile at Olympia Centre, 161 East Chicago Avenue.  Olympia Centre is multi-use, with the condominiums having commanding views high above the office spaces and the expensive goods lining the aisles of the building’s anchor tenant, Nieman Marcus.

My “Triple Crown Trio” is a set of three condos, a One Bedroom, Two Bedroom, and Three Bedroom unit, each with its own compelling features.  Their value is enhanced by Olympia Centre’s unparalleled amenities, such as one of the classiest indoor Pools in town, an amazing location among the shops and restaurants of the Mag Mile, and the sunny sands of Oak Street Beach beckoning only a few blocks away!

Finally, I encourage you to support a cause that will maintain sanity and quaintness in the midst of the Rush and Division area, one of Chicago’s busiest nightlife destinations as shown above.  I am referring to keeping tiny Mariano Park in Chicago’s Rush Street area from being gobbled up and commercialized by its much larger Rush Street neighbors and other corporate interests. 

The park is a peaceful oasis with an unassuming coffee shop, directly across Rush Street from the Tavern on Rush and across Bellevue Place from Gibson’s.  Yet that little shop has an impressive pedigree, being designed by a Frank Lloyd Wright protégé named Birch Burdette Long, and believe it or not the park was donated to the City in 1848, just a few years after Chicago was incorporated!  Feel free to send along a note to the Aldermen for the area, Brian Hopkins in the 2nd Ward (hopkinsforchicago@gmail.com), and Brendan Reilly in the 42nd Ward (office@ward42chicago.com).


Have a Great Summer!!



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