23 April, 2012

Edwin at the Drake

Edith Rockefeller McCormick's constant companion and business partner Edwin Krenn resided at the Drake Hotel for almost twenty years. As I continue to sift through the immense amount of material he saved, a clearer picture of this enigmatic man is beginning to form.

Edwin Krenn in his suite of rooms at the Drake Hotel, c. 1924

The paperwork concerning the real estate firm that was formed with partner and former schoolmate Edward Dato is too complex to even fathom yet. But the private Edwin, who spent nearly two decades at the Drake becomes more fascinating every day as I discern his habits from letters, photographs, and receipts.

Edwin  with part of his vast collection of Asian art and furniture  in his rooms at the Drake Hotel, c. 1924

When Edith returned  to the United States after 8 years in Switzerland (studying and working with Carl Jung) she had Edwin Krenn - a pupil of hers,  in tow. No sooner had the S.S. George Washington docked in New York during September of 1921 then they immediately made their way to Chicago. Edith returned to her home at 1000 Lake Shore Dr. and Edwin was installed in a suite of rooms at the Drake. (Edith's husband Harold was banished to Villa Turicum with their son Fowler as the McCormicks were in the throes of negotiating a divorce that would be quickly granted in December.)

One of Edwin's bills for The Drake; dated June 4, 1922. For perspective, his weekly room(s) total of  $88.20 (for one week) would equal $1,137.00 today.

The receipt shown above is one of many that I have been perusing lately. It offers great insight; for instance it reflects very little in the way of cost for meals. This is due to the fact that Edwin crossed  the street every day to 1000 Lake Shore Drive where he would join Edith for such things as reading, language study, and afternoon tea. His other major expense is the C.O.D. bill, which I attribute to the beginnings of what would become  his vast Buddhistic art collection of jade and sculpture.

In the next installment I will discuss something that has emerged from obscurity in all of this exploration; Edwin's seven year marriage (in 1934) to the divorcĂ©e and art student Mae Clayton.

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