19 May, 2010

An Extraordinary Book

I have a "new" book in my library:

With Stephen R. Higley's book Privilege, Power, and Place: The Geography of the American Upper Class (1995, published by Rowman & Littlefield Publishers) we are given a rare look beyond the doormen and up the long driveways of the past. In the book, (In which Higley drew often upon the Social Register as a source for data) the McCormicks and Villa Turicum are of course mentioned:

"When Cyrus H. McCormick's brother Harold married Edith Rockefeller, it was heralded in the press as 'the marriage of the century,' uniting the Standard Oil fortune and the International Harvester fortune. Harold immediately began construction of a 44-room lakefront mansion, Villa Turicum, adjacent to his brother's Walden. At Villa Turicum one could choose between taking an elevator down nine stories to a lakefront beach-house or descending a winding double marble staircase with a cascading fountain between the steps to a stunningly beautiful pool hanging four stories abouve Lake Michigan. This was a choice that was seldom made, as 'the marriage of the century' broke up before the house was used. It was rarely occupied and the two million dollar home, it' s appraised three million dollar's worth of contents, and 206 lakefront acres were sold at the county sheriff's sale in October 1933 for $51,524."

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