I visited the Ragdale House—a house with an incredible history, whose legacy is steeped in all things artistic. The lovely country estate is today home to one of the most prestigious and historic artist-in-residence programs in the country. The late Chicago architect, Howard Van Doren Shaw built his Ragdale House more than one hundred years ago as his summer retreat. He chose the lush setting in Lake Forest, Illinois for all of the country attributes he so desired—sweeping vistas that stretched on into infinity, replete with apple trees and wildflowers that could be enjoyed from every window of his charming home.
There is a sense of the untamed here—less manicured—more informal— just the way Mr. Shaw intended his Arts and Crafts styled house and barn when he built it in 1897.
It was Shaw’s granddaughter, poet Alice Judson Hayes, who founded The Ragdale Foundation in 1976 with the desire to provide artists a place to relax and recharge. Writers, composers, choreographers, and visual artists are just a few of the creatives that have worked on new projects here. A long list of notable Ragdale alumni include: Audrey Niffenegger, author of The Time Traveler’s Wife, Alice Sebold, author of The Lovely Bones and Lucky, and Scott Turow, author of Presumed Innocent. As well, Mr. Shaw’s daughter, Sylvia sculpted her Bird Girl here, a piece made famous after it appeared on the cover of the best-selling novel, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.This incredibly unique and special place is perhaps best summed up by Mr. Shaw’s granddaughter—“… I am grateful to the house itself for its smell and taste and texture and for the views out of of its windows and for its nurturing spirit.”
~Alice Hayes, Preface to Ragdale: A History and Guide
Thanks so much for stopping by! Make it a great day!