Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Mrs. Arthur Ryerson, Abram Poole,
 Henry C. Dangler & Ambrose C. Cramer Houses
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Mrs. Arthur Ryerson, Abram Poole, Henry C. Dangler & Ambrose C. Cramer Houses (1916) Henry C. Dangler & David Adler, architects, Ambrose C. Cramer, associate /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

While Milwaukee, Wisconsin native David Adler was attending Princeton University in the early 1900s he became friends with fellow classmate artist Abram Poole, who had come east to the New Jersey campus from Chicago. The midwesterners hit-it-off, and when Adler's uncle told his nephew that he would pay for David to attend the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris to study architecture, who did David reconnect with, none other than Abram Poole. Poole, the son of wealthy Chicago commodities trader Abram Poole, then introduced Adler to a fellow Chicagoan who was also studying architecture at the Ecole, Henry Dangler. By the time all three of them ended-up back in Chicago, budding architect Ambrose Cramer joined the gang, and Dangler, Poole and Cramer, along with society matron Emily Ryerson, built a row of houses designed by Adler. The young architect seemed to have been born with an innate sense of scale and proportion, which served him well over the next 30 years in a career interpreting 17th and 18th French and English domestic architecture into 20th century perfection. The row of houses he designed for his friends and Mrs. Ryerson, at first glance, looked like they could have been transported from 18th century London directly to Chicago's Lakeview Avenue.

  [Mrs. Arthur Ryerson, Abram Poole, Henry C. Dangler & Ambrose C. Cramer Houses, 2700-10 N. Lakeview Avenue, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Even though Adler was often given credit as the lead designer, and although only Henry Dangler's name appeared on many of the drawings that came out of the office he and Adler had set-up in 1912 because he was licensed to practice as an architect in Illinois while Adler was not, they each played a significant role in the design and implementation of their work. Adler had taken the architectural licensing exam and failed, and wouldn't receive his Illinois license until the end of the 1920s. When the houses were ready for occupancy in the Fall of 1916, Henry and Ruth Dangler moved into number 2708, tucked snugly into the middle of the row. Unfortunately the Dangler's residency was cut short when Henry died of tuberculosis only four months after the young family had moved in. Alder lost his best friend and business partner.

  [Mrs. Arthur Ryerson, Abram Poole, Henry C. Dangler & Ambrose C. Cramer Houses, Lake View, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Abram Poole took the house on one side of the Danglers, while Ambrose Cramer took the house on the other side. Poole and Dangler knew Cramer because the young men circulated in the same social circles. Cramer's father was another wealthy Chicago-based businessman who lived in the city of Lake Forest, one of Chicago's posh north shore suburbs, where the Cramers, Pooles and Henry's father David all resided. When Adler got married in 1916 he moved to Lake Forest where Henry and Katherine Dangler were already living, while everyone waited for the row of houses to be completed. Keeping things within the echelons of Chicago's upper-crust, Ambrose married Grace Meeker, daughter of the vice president of the mammoth meat-packing enterprise Armour & Co. Cramer who had an interest in architecture, and who had worked with his friends Adler and Dangler on the Lakeview row, decided to go to Paris to study architecture in 1922, leaving his family behind in their Adamesque-inspired house. Grace and the two children went over a couple of times for a visit, but when it looked like Ambrose wasn't planning on returning anytime soon, she filed for a divorce in 1927 citing desertion. However Ambrose wasn't done with the Meeker's. In 1929 Grace's mother and father sent a telegram to the society columns in Chicago announcing the marriage of their youngest daughter Mary to her former brother-in-law. The news was greeted with surprise and shock by many in their social circle, but the marriage lasted until Ambrose's death in 1970.

  [Mrs. Arthur Ryerson, Abram Poole, Henry C. Dangler & Ambrose C. Cramer Houses, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Mrs. Arthur Ryerson was the fourth occupant of the row, and as a Ryerson occupied the largest dwelling of the group. Emily Ryerson was a Borie of Philadelphia and in marrying Arthur Ryerson, joined-in on one of Chicago's larger family fortunes. While his brother Edward took charge of their grandfather's steel-making company, Arthur traded in stocks and commodities and eventually settled near Cooperstown, New York. In 1912, while he, Emily, and three of their children were touring in France, they received word that their 19-year-old son Arthur, Jr. had been killed in an automobile accident. They made arrangements to immediately sail back to the States and boarded the steamship Titanic in Cherbourg. Emily, the children, her friend, and her maid survived, Arthur did not. She buried her son in New York, had a memorial service for her husband - whose body was never found - and began to rebuild her life.

  [Mrs. Arthur Ryerson, Abram Poole, Henry C. Dangler & Ambrose C. Cramer Houses /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Although the Ryerson's had made their home base in the east, they made frequent trips back to Chicago and in 1916 Emily rented the William Vincent house on Astor Street. As soon as her 17-room mansion at the south end of the row was completed, Emily set about throwing some of Chicago's liveliest parties -whenever she was in town. While off on her annual pilgrimages to New York and Europe for months at a time, she turned the house over to Children's Memorial Hospital for use as a convalescent home. After she remarried in 1927 at the age of 64, Emily was photographed in the doorway of her Lakeview house for one last time before heading off to France to live with her new husband Forsythe Sherfesse. Adler's elegantly detailed home was sold and eventually became the site of the Harris School for Girls. Then in 1975 the house-turned-school was sold to Thresholds, who operate the Dincin Center in the former Ryerson manse. The Poole, Dangler and Cramer residences still serve their original purpose. The former Dangler dwelling having sold recently for $2.6 million.

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