Monday, July 19, 2010

Sumary of History Tour and the Death of Mrs. Ogen Armour

This past Saturday the Scottish American History Club conducted its annual history tour. It was a very enjoyable day in Lake Forest, Illinois as we visited the Ogden Armour mansion and then toured the community. My thanks to Andy Kerr who was a gracious host as we visited the mansion and had our lunch. A special thanks, of course, to David Forlow who has collected a vast amount of information about the Scottish families of Lake Forest and Lake Bluff.

The participants had several questions and we will try and answer some of them on our blog. One questions was about Mrs. Armour and her daughter. If you have additional questions, or comments, please feel free to call or send an email.

                                   MRS. LOLITA SHELDON ARMOUR

Mrs. Armour died on February 6, 1953 at the age of 83. She had been ill for a long time and died in her home at 253 N. Green Bay Road in Lake Forest. As a very young girl, she had married Mr. Armour in 1891 and came to be one of Chicago’s most famous hostesses.

Their country home of 1,000 acres became famous for her prize winning roses and horses. The estate was elaborately landscaped and contained two 10 acres lakes. Mr. Armour died in 1927 and his estate became bankrupt, except for some shares of stock that the bank declared worthless. That “worthless stock” was found to be very valuable and restored wealth to Mrs. Armour.

In 1936, Mrs. Armour bought the 18th century, Georgian mansion where she spent the last years of her life. The house was filled with valuable art objects. Her collection of historic shoes was given to the Art Institute in Chicago. (Wonder if they still have them?) Some of the shoes reached back to Queen Anne and “others had danced a minuet at the court of Louis XIV.”

Mrs. Armour was also a good business person. She owned a large interest in the Chicago Tunnel Terminal corporation that is the pedestrian tunnel under the streets of Chicago. (I know about the tunnel, but have never used it.) She sold her interest in 1932. One year later, she purchased the northeast corner of State and Madison, famous as “the world’s busiest corner.” It was once the site of Mandel Brothers Department Store. Does the Amour family still own that corner?

Mrs. Armour was survived by her daughter, Mrs. Lolita Armour Mitchell Wilder of Santa Barbara, California and two grandchildren John J. Mitchell, Jr. and Lolita Mitchell. Services were held in the Church of the Holy Spirit, Lake Forest with burial in Graceland cemetery in Chicago, Illinois.

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