The mere mention of F. Scott Fitzgerald conjures up images of Jazz Age romps on the French Riviera, Long Island’s Gold Coast, or Roaring ’20s Manhattan. However, Lake Forest, Illinois, a suburb north of Chicago, the author considers the most beautiful place in the world.
She is one girl who made the city wonder for her. Ginevra King, eldest daughter of Charles Garfield King, It daughter of Lake Forest. Known for her dark hair and deep voice, Ginevra was part of a group of pioneers known as the “Big Four” that included golfer Edith Cummings, one of the women’s athletes. America’s first superstar. Ginevra was never out of Fitzgerald’s company.
The two had a brief relationship, first meeting at a party in Fitzgerald’s hometown of St. Louis. In 1918, King married the son of a banker (and loved the cover of Town and country). Fitzgerald would write one of the most famous novels in American literature. However, if Isabelle Borgé is in it This side of Paradiseher first novel, and Daisy Buchanan on GatsbyKing is the inspiration for almost all of Fitzgerald’s women’s fiction. And Lake Forest will always be in his mind more than a place, as it should be. Kingdom Come Farm, the sprawling home built for the Kings in 1906 by Howard Van Doren Shaw, is the heart of the writer’s life today, and today is the former mansion.
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“This is the room where the party goes out on the lawn,” said Jeanette Hodgkinson, kicking open the doors to the backyard of the house she and her husband, Danny, had just moved into. 2019. This is probably where, if the story is true, Charles King told Fitzgerald that “poor boys should not think of marrying rich girls.”
But 1915 was a long time ago. As the years passed, the beauty of the home faded; It changed hands several times and was renovated in Colonial Revival style with Art Deco touches in 1938. It was remodeled in the mid-’50s, but after that, nothing. A painting lost in the pool was created by the author’s daughter, Sylvia Shaw Judson. “There’s a bag sitting on the back wall,” Danny said.
When they first visited the home, it was only months away from demolition. The Hodgkinsons sold Kingdom Come Farm and 1.4 acres, including an English garden, in the fall of 2018 for less than $700,000—a much lower price than in previous years, when when the house and five acres of land were listed for more than $ 6 million.
You can always tell by his story where Fitzgerald went. His time in France was transformative Good Nightand, of course, Long Island’s toniest towns have become the no The great gatsby. But judging from Fitzgerald’s writings, Lake Forest was a forgotten chapter in his life. That might explain why the need for home is not forgotten. Although the Hodgkinsons did not know the relationship at first. “It was supposed to be special,” Jeanette said.
Before the couple knew the history of the building, they were fascinated by the details. Signs of Van Doren Shaw’s design still exist today. Every room is filled with sunlight, and egg-and-fish are everywhere. The living room features a Greek scene carved into the cornice that runs to the elliptical sea in the center of the room. The grand staircase leading up from the entrance has a they-don’t-die-as-they-used-to charm.
Recognizing the importance of the home, the Hodgkinsons opted for restoration rather than renovation. The walls were covered with lead paint to make it safe to touch, and the onyx fireplace in the master bedroom needed a professional to buy at “the highest price.” ” because of its rare green color. Luckily, their terrazzo repairman, online for another project, said he could fix it. With the help of a reporter, the Hodgkinsons not only saved the home, they also helped it gain national status. However, uncovering its secrets took some work.
“The town of Lake Forest is very private,” Jeanette said. “Not many people came to us.” The limits are very important in the Lake Forest. The city was restricted to blacks and Jews for decades, and during the First World War, a middle-class Catholic like Fitzgerald showed that it could inspire. Large buildings went up in the early 1900s, including Edith Rockefeller McCormick’s Villa Turicum, and while many of these buildings were influenced by European architecture, Van Doren Shaw’s American interest in the work Arts and Crafts. And if most of the residents keep to themselves, there are those who want to help, including a woman who lived in the house as a child in the 1940s and cried tears of joy at Jeanette’s response to the phone.
Somehow, the Hodgkinsons found their way back home. By restoring Kingdom Come Farm to its former glory, they helped preserve Lake Forest’s links to its own history, to American architecture, and to the author who graced his words in a print hanging in Jeanette’s office. That’s the last part of The great gatsby, where Nick Carraway imagines the green light represents Gatsby’s hope for the days ahead. Kingdom Come Farm is where Fitzgerald’s own green light shines. He believed that the young woman would live there in the future. He wasn’t wrong.
This story appears in the February 2022 issue of Town and country. WRITE STYLE