07 July, 2014

Muriel in Lake Forest

It wasn't long after Edith Rockefeller McCormick's  return from a seven year tarriance in Switzerland and her subsequent divorce from Harold Fowler McCormick in 1921 that daughter Muriel "flew the coop" so-to-speak, and became inseparable from the socially prominent Mr. and Mrs. George Alexander McKinlock.  Years would be spent traveling and living with them, as Muriel and Mrs. McKinlock shared a special mother and daughter bond - bolstered by Muriel's claim to being the "spiritual bride" of the McKinlock's deceased son, who was killed by a sniper's bullet in WWI. (We'll save that for another post.)

Muriel McCormick in her early twenties

In July of 1926 the Chicago Daily Tribune announced: Miss Muriel McCormick made use of one of the most convenient of feminine prerogatives last week and changed her mind about her plans for the summer. Instead of accompanying the George McKinlocks when they sailed on the Conte Rosso Saturday for a holiday in the Italian lake country, she is to be in Lake Forest, in charge of the McKinlock ménage until the return in September.

The next two months were not to find Muriel idle, as she had announced that she intended to spend the summer studying music. Her regimen was to include piano practice six hours a day - quite a task for a young, mercurial woman of 23. (The previous summer, Muriel had aspired to opera, diligently practicing in a small 20 by 16 foot back yard studio that the McKinlocks had built for her.)

The Tribune's report of July 12th concluded: She went as far as New York with the McKinlocks to bid them adieu at the dock, and then spent the weekend just past with her grandfather, John D. Rockefeller at his beautiful estate on the Hudson. She is to return tomorrow to this part of the world, to take up the work with which she'll fill the time until her hosts sail for home again.

Of course my question is - did she spend any time at Villa Turicum? Her mother owned it (Edith purchased it from Harold after the divorce) but the relationship between true mother and daughter was contentious, at best. I can only surmise that she did, because it wouldn't be too many years later that she would have her own estate in Palm Beach, FL after spending many years with the McKinlocks at their villa in Vita Serena, "Casa Alejandro."  Muriel would name her own Palm Beach home in Via Bellaria, "Villa Turicum."

New book explores the tale of the dead son and his devoted mother  George Alexander and Marion McKinlock's Casa Alejandro in Palm Beach, FL

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