Friday, January 28, 2011



Daniel Burnham had spent the week prior to the Morton's "celebration" at Arbor Lodge (see previous post) with John Wanamaker in Philadelphia. His next engagement would be with the Ryerson's at Lake Geneva. Mr. Burnham was keeping quite a social schedule with the country's elite and moneyed powerbrokers.

.... but how many times might he have heard this? "No, his family has no money. They aren't really anybody. And he isn't particularly well educated. (In fact, he failed the Harvard entrance exams)  He's an architect. But he is very bright and Margaret loves him very much......."

There was no business partnership in Daniel Burnham's life more important than his marriage to Margaret Sherman, whose family's social standing allowed a lifetime of connections and remarkable architectural commissions.

How could this not be "the 800 pound gorilla in the room!" Was Daniel simply the solid, happy, confident architect who comfortably fit into Margaret's privileged life as a matter of course? Or was he driven, larger than life, to ever greater accomplishments by the need to "perform" for a social class that may well have considered him "hired help" if it hadn't been for his happy marriage?

With Daniel Burnham, its seems, there are always more questions. A lot more questions than I would have guessed nearly 2 years ago, when on a lark, I began blogging D.H. Burnham and Co.

For a glimpse at turn of the century life on Lake Geneva -- link here.  For a peak at Arbor Lodge -- link here.


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