About: The Gardener's Cottage in Riverside, Illinois
Riverside, Illinois, was designed in 1869 by renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted and his architect partner Calvert Vaux. Their unique design, which followed the contours of the landscape and emphasized open spaces, inspired the greatest architects of the time to undertake projects in Riverside. Among those projects was the Avery Coonley Estate, a rare joint effort by Frank Lloyd Wright and landscape architect Jens Jensen. At the center of the estate, itself a National Historic Landmark, sits the Gardener’s Cottage, a small but unassuming masterpiece built for the estate’s gardener and his wife. The cottage matches the architectural aesthetic of the estate, and its naturalistic, stunning gardens reflect the overall emphasis on landscape and nature in Riverside
But what is it truly like to live within a historic work of architectural art? Current owner and gardening writer Cathy Jean Maloney here records her discoveries and personal reflections on living in the Gardener’s Cottage with her family. In The Gardener’s Cottage in Riverside, Illinois, Maloney describes the cottage’s beginnings, providing biographical background and design insight into the house itself and Riverside’s key creators. She also highlights the often overlooked beauty of the cottage and illustrates how it is emblematic of Wright and Jensen’s holistic Prairie Style approach to building and landscape architecture. The size of the Gardener’s Cottage allows us to witness Wright’s aesthetic concerns in small detail and to understand his ideas on a more accessible and livable scale.
The Gardener’s Cottage is a welcome and original addition to the work on these world-renowned architects and planners. It not only celebrates their designs, but the simple daily beauty of living within them.
Reviews for: The Gardener's Cottage in Riverside, Illinois
“This is exactly the kind of book I hoped would happen once my catalog of Wright’s work was published. Richly illustrated, this work is not just an owner or occupant’s story, but the full history of the house and its surroundings. From the birds that frequent the plantings of the gardener for which the building is named to the river that wanders nearby, from the ‘native weeds’ that neighbors wanted cut down to details of the Coonley’s finding and development of the site in Riverside, here is the story of a small, beautiful house. Wonderful!”—William Allin Storrer, author of The Frank Lloyd Wright Companion and The Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright: A Complete Catalog
“The charming volume—part personal essay and part history lesson—is like a scrapbook overflowing with antique photos, vintage blueprints, and the author’s own homegrown snapshots.”—Bridget Herman, Chicago Home + Garden
“Cathy Maloney’s detailed account of her home’s history is unique in its inclusion of landscape design. Too often historic home research ends at the threshold. Frank Lloyd Wright fans may be surprised to learn how much Jens Jensen really contributed to the lore of the Avery Coonley estate—truly a Midwest icon!”—Scott Mehaffey, Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects
“More than just one person’s experience with a home, this book tells the history of the home almost as if the home had been interviewed and the author was just assisting with an autobiography written by the house itself.”—Gregory Johnson, ResourcesForLife.com
All books are available through online retailers such as Amazon.com or BarnesandNoble.com, through the publishers listed on this website's contact page, or through local bookstores.
Cathy Jean Maloney's books celebrate the hopes and ideas that thrive in yesteryear's gardens. Unlike dusty historical accounts of lost landscapes, you can visit most of these landmark gardens today.
Once maligned as a swampy outpost, the fledgling city of Chicago brazenly adopted the motto "Urbs in Horto" or City in a Garden, in 1837. Chicago Gardens shows how this upstart town earned its sobriquet over the next century, from the first vegetable plots at Fort Dearborn to innovative garden designs at the 1933 World’s Fair.
Challenged by the region’s clay soil, harsh winters, and fierce winds, Chicago’s pioneering horticulturalists, Maloney demonstrates, found imaginative uses for hardy prairie plants. This same creative spirit thrived in the city’s local fruit and vegetable markets, encouraging the growth of what would become the nation’s produce hub. The vast plains that surrounded Chicago, meanwhile, inspired early landscape architects, such as Frederick Law Olmsted, Jens Jensen, and O.C. Simonds, to new heights of grandeur.
Maloney does not forget the backyard gardeners: immigrants who cultivated treasured seeds and pioneers who planted native wildflowers. Maloney’s vibrant depictions of Chicagoans like “Bouquet Mary,” a flower peddler who built a greenhouse empire, add charming anecdotal evidence to her argument–that Chicago’s garden history rivals that of New York or London and ensures its status as a world-class capital of horticultural innovation.
With exquisite archival photographs, prints, and postcards, as well as field guide descriptions of living legacy gardens for today’s visitors, Chicago Gardens will delight green-thumbs from all parts of the world.
Reviews for: Chicago Gardens: The Early History
“Chicago Gardens captures many of the fascinating stories and names associated with Chicago’s first hundred years of horticulture. From the boasting by its founders in 1833 that Chicago would be an ‘urbs in horto’ (or ‘city in a garden’) to the aftermath of the Century of Progress Exposition in 1933–34, Chicago Gardens traces Chicago’s coming of age as a center of horticulture, gardening and conservation.”—Robert E. Grese, Director, Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum
“A new book on historic gardens in one city offers plenty of lessons for what makes a beautiful landscape. It’s Chicago Gardens: The Early History, by Cathy Jean Maloney. Of particular interest to planners will be the case studies of landscapes.”—Harold Henderson, Planning
"As well as wonderful vignettes, Chicago Gardens is filled with beautiful illustrations. . . . It is a delightful book."—Ann Durkin Keating, Chicago History Examiner
“Maloney has combed through seemingly endless documentary sources from Chicago’s first 100 years—newspapers, magazines, garden-club minutes—to produce a book full of fascinating tidbits for any Chicago history buff or gardening geek that includes many maps, photos and old catalog illustrations from her own collection.”—Beth Botts, Chicago Tribune
“A great resource for Chicago gardeners as well as history buffs [with] fascinating and informative vintage photographs and illustrations.”—Chicago Sun-Times
Originally formed in 1908, as an outgrowth of the Playground Association of Chicago, the Prairie Club was incorporated as a separate entity in 1911. Embodying the typical reform mentality of the Progressive era, the club emphasized outdoor recreation and preservation, and sponsored walking trips around Chicago's countryside. Captured here in over 200 vintage photographs are the footsteps of the Prairie Club as they built a constituency for exploring and preserving the forests and fields surrounding the Windy City. Like many large American cities in the early 1900s, Chicago's industrialization and waves of immigration spawned crowded, unhealthy urban conditions. The Prairie Club turned to nature for relief from these societal ills. From its first outing on Saturday, April 18, 1908, around Mount Forest District near Willow Springs, members sponsored hikes and outdoor activities from Palos and Tinley, through Hinsdale and Downers Grove, and up to the North Shore. With each of these walks, public support grew for what ultimately became victorious efforts to establish the forest preserves, Indiana Dunes, and other nature spots around the burgeoning cityscape.
Other Writings and Media
Ms. Maloney frequently writes for other publications, or appears on radio or TV. Examples include:
WGN TV Author Interview on July 8, 2010: click here
Chicagoland Gardeningmagazine - recent articles about Chicago area gardens by Senior Editor Cathy Jean Maloney and other veteran Chicago gardeners. www.chicagolandgardening.com
Daily Herald newspaper - recent columns on "The Nature of Things" click here
ABC By Design - Radio interview on Australian Broadcasting Corporation popular segment, "ABC By Design" click here
Landscape Architecture magazine - "Floral Style on Magnificent Mile" click here
Chicago and Its Botanic Garden: The Chicago Horticultural Society at 125 is a lushly illustrated and thoughtful history of the Society and its evolution from a producer of monumental flower and botanical shows, through a fallow period, to the opening in 1972 of the Chicago Botanic Garden, a living museum and world leader in horticulture, plant science and conservation, education, and urban agriculture.