by Pamela S. Meyers
Wadsworth Hall in 1906 when it was built.
I was raised in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, a small town in southeastern Wisconsin that sits next to beautiful spring-fed Geneva Lake. Back in October of 1871, the Great Chicago Fire displaced a lot of people—rich and poor alike. Many of the rich moved their families to the virgin shores of Geneva Lake and built large mansions for their families to live in while the city was being rebuilt. It didn’t take long for other wealthy bankers and industrialists to hear about the pristine lake and its shoreline that could be had for a “song.”
Today, many of those 19th Century homes have either burned down or been torn down to be replaced by something more modern. Those that remain and are restored to their original design offer a peek into the lifestyles of the rich and famous of another era.
Back in 2015, I wrote a blog post here about Wadsworth Hall (now named Glanworth Gardens), a beautiful mansion that closely resembles Thomas Jefferson's Monticello. Recently, the home's most recent owner, Richard Driehaus, founder, and chairman of Driehaus Capital Management, passed away, and I thought this beautiful estate deserved to be revisited
Resource: At The Lake Magazine
At The Lake Magazine's editor, Anne Morrisey, penned a feature article on Glanworth Gardens in its May 2018, issue and much of what I share here has been gleaned from her detailed report.
The estate was commissioned and built in 1906, by Norman Wait Harris, founder of what is now known as BMO Harris Bank. Thirteen years later, after the passing of both Mr. and Mrs. Harris, their daughter, Pearl, sold the property to Walden W. Shaw, co-founder of Chicago’s Yellow Cab Company.
View of Glanworth from a boat
(Note the people walking the lakeshore path, which
is open access to the public all around the lake.)
Photo by Pamela Meyers
Shaw changed the name of the estate to The Stenning after his grandfather’s
home in Great Britain. He eventually relocated to California and his daughter, Bessie, and her husband, Daniel Peterkin, Jr. an executive at Morton Salt, moved into the estate. After Bessie passed away, Daniel remarried and eventually willed the estate to his second wife, Dorothy. By then, costs to keep up the large home were overwhelming and not always attended to as they should be. The exterior of the home has remained the same all these years, but the interior suffered from the effects of wear and tear.
When Dorothy died in 1997, the property was put on the market and Mr. Driehaus, appreciating the mansion's “good bones,” purchased it. Acquiring the home satisfied his desire for a summer home for his family. He spent two years bringing the interior back to its former glory, often flying up to Lake Geneva from Chicago on a helicopter to inspect the ongoing work and make decisions.
Resource At The Lake Magazine
After the work was complete, he hosted a New Year’s Eve party to celebrate-- the first of many parties he would have there. In recent years, on his July 27th birthday, he would host a large themed party, complete with a celebrity performer. The evening always included a firework display that the public could also enjoy, from boats, piers, and land.
Driehaus passed away on March 9, 2021, and on July 24, 2021, his family held a party in his memory that included the firework display he so enjoyed. Many boats gathered in the waters around the estate, while others watched from piers and the shoreline. It’s unknown if the firework display will continue in the coming years, but whether it does or not, Mr. Driehaus has left his mark, not only by restoring his beautiful home but also by his many philanthropic donations to the city, including a fountain that now sits in front of the Riviera boat landing and ballroom.
At the Lake Magazine; July 2018, Morrisey and reprinted in the Summer 2021 edition.
Newport of the West, 1976, Wadsworth Hall, p. 54-56, Ann Wolfmeyer & Mary Burns Gage
Entrance to Estate Photo: How to Plan a Perfect Lake Geneva Getaway, www.lizzyfay.com
Pamela S. Meyers lives in northern Illinois with her two rescue cats, but her heart will always remain in her hometown of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, where she can often be found nosing around for new story ideas. She writes historical romances set right there and you can read about them at www.pamelasmeyers.com.