Wednesday, May 19, 2010

One Stop on the History Tour, July 17, 2010

The History Club of the Illinois Saint Andrew's Society will conduct its annual history tour on July 17, 2010. The charter bus will leave the Scottish Home in North Riverside, Illinois at 11 a.m. and travel to Lake Forest. Our first stop will be at the former Armour mansion, now the Lake Forest Academy. The cost is $21.00 and children are welcome. Call 630-629-4516 or email to for reservations or information.

The most pretentious home in Lake Forest, Illinois, was that of J. Ogden Armour. The Armour’s bought 1,000 acres which had once been the farm of Patrick Melody. Mr. Armour apparently bought the land when his wife was in Europe. Mrs. Armour named the property “Melody Farm.” The area was drained into two large lakes, stocked with bass and perch. The architect was Arthur Heun and Morton R. Mavor (a Scot) was the contractor. A relative of Mr. Mavor lives in LaGrange and has attended our History Club meeting.

Two feet of black dirt was brought in to cover 200 acres in the area surrounding the house and the stables. There was a gate on Waukegan Road and the two mile road to the mansion was lined with young elm trees. A steel bridge was built over the Milwaukee railroad. (The Armour’s had their own personal station.) Along the drive to the house, one could see deer and beautiful horses. The horses lived in a fire-proof stable with their names engraved above their stalls.

The main building measured 180 by 500 feet and had a bowling alley in the basement. The dining room was on the first floor and had marble walls. The main floor also contained a music room with a pipe organ concealed in the paneling. In London, Mrs. Armour had purchased a little green-paneled room. It was dismantled and shipped to the new mansion.

Three people lived in the house and their quarters were on the second floor. Mr. Armour had two offices, one above the other, connected by a secret staircase. Gold and silver were frequently used in door knobs and electrical fixtures. Much of the furniture was bought in Europe and so were the silk paneling that adorned the marble walls. Magnificent rugs covered the marble floors.

More about the house later.

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