My Kind of Town, Chicago is...
The old haunts of Seven for a Secret
Hampden Court Apartments
Located in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood, this is the inspiration for Camden Court, home to several characters in Seven for a Secret.
Kate and Olive's apartment is located in the left wing, on the 4th floor and right next door to Lon. Miss Mousy lives on the 3rd floor across the courtyard, and Vera's and Leo's apartments are in the back left-hand corner.
Francis J. Dewes House
In the novel, this Wrightwood mansion houses the Warren Hughes family. It's the site of opulent soirees and the grand staircase where Lon and Eva first meet.
Like its real-life counterpart, the Dewes house shares a gated garden with a townhouse of similar architecture. The sister house is where Eva and Finlay Redcliffe reside.
Click image for a virtual tour.
In the novel, this Frank Lloyd Wright house belongs to Lon's brother Lloyd. Lon also lives at this "country" estate in Geneva, Illinios before moving into Chicago's Camden Court. Like Lloyd, Colonel George Fabyan supported military intelligence research during WWI. Unlike Lloyd, he created his own research facility, Riverbank Laboratories, renowned for its cryptology. In addition to an elaborate Japanese garden, Fabyan's Fox River estate boasts a Dutch windmill rather than "a pagoda imported from the Orient," as the Ashby estate enjoys.
Estella Ashby, the noble aunt of the novel's Lon Ashby, lives in a North Woods estate loosely modeled after the Marshfield, Wisconsin property of Augusta Roddis. Augusta was, as I've been told by a dear friend, a true lady and beacon for her family; many sought her wise counsel. She was also active in her community and politics and had an avid interest in travel, history, art, and literature. Like Estella, she was born in that house and passed away in her treasured library. Her dining room was indeed crafted from the wood of a single tree, and the Roddis Lumber and Veneer Company likewise inspired the Ashby family business.
Click to see today's Sphere.
Adler Planetarium &
Chicago Academy of Sciences
A Chicago institution since 1930, the Adler Planetarium (pictured right) is Kate and Dexter's workplace. It was the first modern planeterium in the Western Hemisphere, displacing the Atwood Celestial Sphere at the Chicago Academy of Sciences (pictured left). In the novel, Lon and Eva share an intimate conversation inside the Atwood Sphere at the old CAS museum. Decades later, Kate and Dexter share a heart-to-heart inside it at the Adler.
Saint Clement Church
Located on W. Deming Place in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood, St. Clement's is the site of Eva and Finlay Redcliffe's nuptials.
Dream Lady (a.k.a. Eugene Field Memorial)
The Dream Lady really does exist! At least this statue of her does in Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo. Dedicated in 1922 to the author Eugene Field, this memorial is where Eva and Lon flee one summer night to sail "on a river of crystal light into a sea of dew."
The Drake Hotel
Born in the Roaring Twenties, this grand hotel continues to make its mark on Chicago's famous Lake Shore Drive and Michigan Avenue (a.k.a. "The Magnificent Mile"). Adding to its decadence is the Palm Court (pictured left), where the Hughes and Redcliffe women sip their afternoon tea in the novel.
Opened in 1926, this Jazz Age treasure of Chicago's Uptown neighborhood is where Lon escorts Effie for New Year's Eve. The Aragon continues to be a popular concert venue, though its repainted ceiling is a way more psychedelic starry night than Lon would have seen.
Green Mill Cocktail Lounge
This fine establishment is where Lon heads after leaving the Aragon "to deliver himself from drunk to positively zozzled." The Green Mill is still a total jazz gem in Chicago's Uptown, complete with a trap door behind the bar through which they used to smuggle hooch during Prohibition. It's said that Capone had a preferred booth from where he could see anyone coming and going, and "Rhapsody in Blue" was his signature song request.
Victory Gardens Theater
Historically known as the Biograph Theater, this is the infamous cinema where John Dillinger was shot in 1934. Betrayed by the Lady in Red in life, Dillinger is said to haunt the theater in death. But what this North Lincoln Avenue venue is far less likely to go down in history as is the place where Lon and Eva watch The Phantom of the Opera in my book. Fair enough.
Deelish fondue restaurant on Armitage Avenue in Chicago where Kate has her destined date with David.
Local Lincoln Park watering hole where Kate and Vera throw back some stiff drinks. And while it's not specifically identified as such in the book, in my mind it's also the speakeasy where we first meet Lon.
The Bourgeois Pig
Hands-down my favorite Chi-town coffee shop. This Fullerton Avenue cafe has shelf upon shelf of tea jars and sandwiches named after literature, all within the quaint and cozy confines of an old house. While the inside reeks of vintage charm, our girl Kate opts to sit outside, where Vera chances upon her twice.
And speaking of Vera, how remiss would I be not to give a shout-out to her Panera Pack?! Okay, so maybe you don't really need to see a photo of the franchise, but this is THE Panera where the Pack gets it geriatric groove on...located on Diversey Avenue just east of Clark Street.