It’s probably no surprise that I would be drawn to a place whose very soul is steeped in the creative. Ragdale House, with its lush landscape and incredible legacy is truly a creatives’s dream house.
The lovely country estate is located in Lake Forest, Illinois, and is home to one of the most prestigious and historic artist-in-residence programs in the country. Writers, composers, choreographers, and visual artists come here to work on new projects and are often so inspired by their surroundings they leave having created a lasting body of work. The long list of notable Ragdale alumni include: Audrey Niffenegger, author of The Time Traveler’s Wife, Alice Sebold, author of The Lovely Bones and Lucky, and Scott Turow, author of Presumed Innocent.
The late Chicago Architect, Howard Van Doren Shaw built Ragdale House more than a century ago as his summer retreat. The setting embodied all the country attributes that he so desired—sweeping vistas replete with apple trees and wild flowers that he could enjoy from every window of his home. There is a sense of the untamed here—less manicured more informal—just the way Mr. Shaw intended his Arts-and-Crafts-styled house and barn when he built it in 1897.
Mr. Shaw’s daughter, Sylvia, sculpted her Bird Girl here, a piece made famous after it appeared on the cover of the best-selling novel, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.
It was Shaw’s granddaughter, poet Alice Judson Hayes, who created The Ragdale Foundation in 1976 with the desire to provide artists with a place to relax and recharge. I would say she more than succeeded on both counts.
For more information on Ragdale House and their artist-in-residency program visit their website at: http://www.ragdale.org/