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Crab Tree Farm

Posted by
Steven (Chicagoland, United States) on 7 February 2017 in Landscape & Rural and Portfolio.

Photo taken from the archives....

At the turn of the twentieth century, the property we know today as Crab Tree Farm was part of a 370-acre dairy farm, owned by the eminent Illinois federal district judge and railroad president Henry W. Blodgett, who created the system that became the Chicago & Northwestern Railway in 1863. In 1905 Scott Sloan Durand (1869–1949), founder of S. S. Durand and Co., a Chicago sugar brokerage, purchased 250 acres of Blodgett’s land on Lake Michigan just north of the village of Lake Bluff, Illinois, and presented them to his wife, Grace Durand (1867–1948). Educated with agricultural training, she had founded a burgeoning commercial business, Crab Tree Dairy, on twenty acres in the residential village of Lake Forest. There, Durand kept her prize herd of Guernsey cows, but escaped animals and the aroma of farm life were a constant source of irritation to neighbors, and the Durands determined that they must relocate to the former Blodgett property.

In 1910, less than five years after they had moved, a fire destroyed the original farm buildings, and that event prompted Grace Durand to commission noted Chicago architect Solon Spencer Beman (1853–1914), who is perhaps best known for his design of Pullman Village (1880–84) on Chicago’s far south side, to develop plans for a modern facility for her operation. The result was the assembly of buildings that survives today as Crab Tree Farm.

Beman, who trained in New York and had come to the Chicago area with the promise of work after the city’s devastating 1871 fire, created a massive central barn surmounted by a clock tower. It is flanked by four additional buildings and a pair of silos. Arranged around a central court and reflecting pool, the structures provide approximately 20,000 square feet of interior space.

The buildings were constructed to be fireproof, with steel framing and walls of terracotta blocks, finished with concrete and white stucco. The roofs were cast from concrete to resemble terracotta tiles. The buildings were provided with electric lights, water, refrigeration, and ventilation. Their somewhat eclectic style has been referred to as “California Mission,” “South African,” and “Scandinavian.”

In 1912–13 the noted landscape architect Jens Jensen developed plans for fruit, flower, and vegetable gardens and orchards. Only parts of his plan were executed.

In 1926 William McCormick Blair (1884–1982) and his wife, Helen Bowen Blair (1890–1972), purchased from the Durands eleven acres of farmland overlooking Lake Michigan and commissioned architect David Adler (1882–1949) to design a summer home. In 1948, after Grace Durand died, the dairy ceased operations. Over the next decade, the Blairs purchased the rest of the farm.

In 1985 the Blair estate sold the farm buildings and most of the farmland to Mr. and Mrs. John H. Bryan, who had, the previous year, purchased the Blairs’ summer residence on the lake. Today Crab Tree Farm is home to cattle, horses, sheep, chickens, and turkeys. Crops have included hay, corn, and soybeans. The original Beman buildings have undergone extensive renovation and display collections of furniture and decorative arts from the American and English Arts and Crafts movement, as well as contemporary furniture.

Photo captured December 27, 2009.

SONY DSLR-A300 1/250 second F/13.0 ISO 100 35 mm

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Spotlight Images

Martine from France

Magnifique paysage enneigé, j'aime beaucoup.

7 Feb 2017 5:41am

tataray from Charentes-Poitou, France

Excellente prise, belle présentation. )

7 Feb 2017 6:20am

Claudine/canelle from Lorient, France

Quelle histoire ...et c'est tant mieux qu'elle soit encore en activité
Belle photo !

7 Feb 2017 6:27am

Jypyä Pop from Turku, Finland

Beautiful winter day.

7 Feb 2017 6:51am

Wayra from Roma, Italy

It seems a post-card... Nice!

7 Feb 2017 8:01am

Tomek from PoznaƄ, Poland

Beautiful winter scenery.

7 Feb 2017 9:42am

Martine Libouton from Bousval, Belgium

Une belle composition

7 Feb 2017 10:03am

franz from Baden, Austria

An amazing story you tell here! This interesting building has certainly undergone many a change.
I love your treatment and presentation. It reminds me of a Christmas card really ...

7 Feb 2017 10:18am

Hiro from Kyoto, Japan

Very nice !!!

7 Feb 2017 11:12am

Frances from Boston, United States

A superb winter image. Gorgeous scene.

7 Feb 2017 11:28am

Rick from Toronto, Canada

An excellent post all around, Steven. I love this wintry beauty and the snowy rooftop.

7 Feb 2017 1:28pm

Ruthiebear from Titusville, NJ, United States

I like the light and the point of view

7 Feb 2017 3:02pm

Graciel·la (Vic. Catalonia) from CAT. New European State, Poland

Wow ! very interessting Steven. Thanks for explaining the history of this place.
I really like this image too. It looks like a postcard.

7 Feb 2017 3:08pm

willy from Belgium

une superbe photo hivernale Steven

et quelle histoire..


7 Feb 2017 3:09pm

Mhelene from Villiers-sur-Marne, France

Beautiful and big property ! A superb composition .

7 Feb 2017 3:17pm

Remus from Portugal

For me, this photo is a Christmas postcard.
Lovely winter day.

7 Feb 2017 3:35pm

jean pierre a from France

joli traitement!! amitiés

7 Feb 2017 3:44pm

Don from Spokane, United States

The white building looks very good on the snowy field. I like this shot very much.

7 Feb 2017 4:12pm

Nicou from Sion, Switzerland

Quelle maison et la belle njeige quelle vue et cpatage superbe compo.

7 Feb 2017 4:37pm

Steve Rice from Olympia, United States

A beautiful farm that is much nicer than any I've ever seen. That's quite a long and interesting history surrounding it. I like this snowy shot.

7 Feb 2017 5:39pm

Baldwin VW from Bejuma, Venezuela

Those buildings look majestic on this wonderful winter scene ... Fabulous shot and beautiful presentation !!!

7 Feb 2017 6:40pm

Adela Fonts from Barcelona, Spain

A postcard beauty. Magnificent...

7 Feb 2017 7:17pm

Francisco Romero from Leon, Spain

A very beautiful winter scene. And a lot of history in this place.

7 Feb 2017 7:40pm

Sam from Chennai, India

Beautiful landscape and an excellent presentation. Interesting history. :)

7 Feb 2017 7:42pm

omid from mashhad, Iran

such beautiful composition, colors & lights!
Lovely farm!

7 Feb 2017 7:44pm

Michael Rawluk from Williams Lake, BC, Canada

Nice. A very romantic winter shot.

7 Feb 2017 11:12pm

Carol from Leamington, Canada

Very interesting... I think it's a sturdy structure now! That is a beautiful scene, so crisp and clear.

7 Feb 2017 11:32pm

Elaine Hancock from Rockville, United States

Absolutely gorgeous image. Wonderful point of view! This is about one of the most beautiful barns that I have ever seen. It is just spectacular! An interesting history. Thank you for adding that. I would love to visit there. I have always loved the furniture, art and architecture of the Arts and Crafts Movement.

8 Feb 2017 2:17am

Harry from Apex, NC, United States

I like your edge treatment. I also like that bit of fence you included at the bottom edge to anchor your composition.

8 Feb 2017 4:17am

L'Angevine from Angers, France

bien ce cadrage

8 Feb 2017 11:05am

Etsu from Kyoto, Japan

Wonderful winter image !! Nice composition.

8 Feb 2017 2:26pm

grouser from Ludlow, United Kingdom

It almost feels as though we are seeing the building's skeleton

8 Feb 2017 6:34pm

ventiqueras from Italy

meraviglioso come la neve riesce a rendere tutto più soffice e leggero
scatto prezioso

12 Feb 2017 8:14am