It began, at
least, with hope. Edith Rockefeller McCormick, daughter of John
Rockefeller; wife of Harold McCormick, was one of the richest woman of
her day. She determined to build Villa Turicum
(“Settlement on the Water”) as a country retreat and solace for the 1901
loss of her young son.
But after the
house was complete, in 1913, Edith abruptly left her family to seek
treatment from Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung. Haunted by the death
of her son and rumors of her husband’s infidelities, she was never to
return fully to her marriage, or her mansion
The McCormicks separated in 1921, following Edith¹s
return from Europe. She
lived on in her grand home at 1000 Lake Shore Drive in Chicago, known for
her lavish parties and flamboyant dress. Villa Turicum remained fully furnished and staffed,
awaiting its mistresses¹ bidding, though she seldom, if ever, returned
It was during this time that she joined
in a ruinous business venture with Jung¹s
Swiss protégée Edward Krenn, and his partner
Edward Dato. This partnership resulted in
the development of the Highlands neighborhood
in Highland Park. This
last venture, underwritten with Standard Oil securities, went bankrupt
following the 1929 market crash.
Edith died in 1932. The Rockefeller heiress, who once owned a $1
million dollar diamond dog collar and emeralds that belonged to Catherine
the Great, died $3 million dollars in debt.
death, the valuable furnishings and artwork of Villa Turicum were sold at public auction for pennies
on the dollar. In the 1940s, the property itself was sold for
$75,000 in back taxes, but development plans languished. In the
1950s, the estate was proferred to the city of Lake Forest, but the
offer was declined. Plans for a private club on the site fell
was purchased in 1956 by Robert Kendler of
Community Builders. The house, found to be structurally unsound,
was torn down. The property was subdivided into 161 lots and in
1972 was being marketed with a familiar name, “Villa Turicum.”
relationship with her father was stormy. She rebelled from his staunch
frugality by living extravagantly, and giving away millions to her
favorite causes," said Lonnie Sacchi of
the Frederick Law Olmsted Society.
owned furniture that once belonged to Napoleon. She had Catherine the Great's emeralds, too," Sacchi
said. "Her pearls were valued at $2 million. Her dog wore a
built a 44-room Italianate villa in Lake Forest.
"The unoccupied villa was full of unopened crates of art and
antiques," he said.
2004 – by Bill Cunniff