Griffin, Marion Mahony

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Marion Mahony Griffin Soundex Code G615

Wikipedia page about Marion Manhony Griffin

Mrs. Marion Mahony Griffin (Tuesday, February 14, 1871 – Thursday, August 10, 1961), nee: Marion Mahony.

Marion was the first cousin of architect Dwight Perkins, who had a great influence on her.

A graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Marion was the first woman to receive a degree in architecture. Also, Marion was first woman, in the history of the world, to pass an examination to receive an architecture license, and is considered an original member of the Prairie School.

Marion was the first employee hired by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright, and became his right hand person. Her design work and watercolors became synonymous with the Prairie School-Style of architecture. Her beautiful watercolor renderings of buildings and landscapes became known as a staple of Wright's style, though he never gave her credit for her work. Despite her talents, her work went largely unrecognized during her tenure with Wright. Marion Mahony's talents finally emerged from behind Wright's shadow when Wright and his mistress left the U.S., as well as his wife, his family, and his architectural practice, in 1909. She finished all of his work and created a half dozen houses in his name.

Marion began working with Walter Burley Griffin in 1910 and married him in 1911. Together, they designed many homes in the Rogers Park neighborhood, including the J. Benjamin Moulton house, located at 1328 W. Sherwin Avenue.

Walter and Marion won the first prize out of 200 entries in the international design competition in 1913 for designing Canberra, the capitol city of Australia.

Following her husband Walter's death in India in 1937, Marion Mahony Griffin returned to Rogers Park, she moved back into her family house at 1946 W. Estes Avenue, where she lived with her sister. During that time, she painted two magnificent murals in the lobby of George Buchanan Armstrong School of International Studies, 2110 W. Greenleaf Avenue, where her sister was a teacher. The murals remain to this day, having been restored in 1997.

On May 2, 2013, Park 557 at 7211 N. Kedzie Avenue was suggested by Roger Price, the Consul-General of Australia, 123 N. Wacker Drive, as a candidate to be renamed in honor of Marion.

On Wednesday, June 11, 2014, DNAinfo.com reported:

Chicago Park District spokeswoman Jessica Maxey-Faulkner said the bid to rename the park for Griffin had been abandoned.

See below

Citation: Van Zanten, David. Marion Mahony reconsidered. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011. Print. The information was found on page 125.

Aussies Want to Rename Jarvis Beach After Woman Who Designed Their Capital

By Benjamin Woodard on July 23, 2014 1:51pm @benjamdub; DNAinfo.com

ROGERS PARK — The Aussies are at it again.

The Australian representative to the Midwest has proposed — for a second time — that a Chicago park be renamed for Marion Mahony Griffin, the American architect who with her husband, Walter Burley Griffin, designed the Aussie capital city Canberra more than a century ago.

Alderman Joe Moore (49th) announced Wednesday, July 23, 2014, that Consul-General Roger Price, who heads the Australian consulate in Chicago, proposed to rename Jarvis Beach Park 1208 W. Jarvis Avenue after the Griffins.

An earlier proposal to rename Park 557 after the architect didn't pan out after a neighborhood group in West Ridge opposed the idea.

In the early 1900s, the couple won an international competition to design the first capital city of Australia after the continent's British colony declared its independence in 1901.

The Griffins moved from Chicago to Australia after winning the competition, and work began in 1913 to construct the city in former farmland in southeast Australia.

"There’s a strong American connection to Australia's capital," Price told DNAinfo Chicago last year, mentioning that the artificial lake at the city's center is named after Walter Griffin, and a prominent lookout was renamed for Marion Griffin in November.

The Griffins lived in Australia until 1936, before moving to India where Walter Griffin died. Marion Griffin eventually returned to Chicago in 1939 and lived in Rogers Park on Estes Avenue until her death at age 90 in 1961.

Jarvis Beach and Jarvis Avenue were named after R.J. Jarvis, a friend of the Rogers and Touhy families, who founded and subdivided Rogers Park, according to the Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society.

Moore said he would support the renaming of the park at the August park district Board of Commissioners meeting unless there was opposition from the community.

My Decision to Support the Renaming of Jarvis Beach and Park, Joe Moore, Alderman 49th Ward, Monday, September 8, 2014

Dear Neighbor,

You may recall earlier this summer I wrote an e-mail blast asking your opinion on a proposal to change the name of the Jarvis Beach and Park to the Marion Mahony Griffin Beach and Park in honor of the renowned Rogers Park artist and architect, Marion Mahony Griffin (1871-1961). I also solicited opinions on my Facebook page and various social media sites in the neighborhood.

Based on the comments I've received, which have been overwhelmingly supportive of the proposed name change, and the absence of any compelling argument against the proposal, I have informed the Park District that I plan to support the name change. ...

The proposal originated from Park District Superintendent Michael Kelly and Australian Consul General Roger Price, both of whom who expressed a desire to name a park or beach in Rogers Park in honor of Ms. Griffin, a protégé of famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright and former resident of Rogers Park. I indicated I was open to the idea and, after some consideration, recommended Jarvis Beach and Park as the most suitable candidate for renaming because of its close proximity to Wright's landmark Emil Bach House at 7415 N. Sheridan Road. ...

Few Chicago Parks are named after Women

Sadly very few parks and beaches in our City are named after women. Of the 348 parks named for people in the Chicago Park District system, only 62 (17%) are named for women. Three of those parks are here in Rogers Park: Lazarus Park on the 1200 block of Columbia is named in honor of American poet and philanthropist Emma Lazarus, Willye White Park on Howard Street is named after the famous Olympian, and Pratt Beach recently was re-named Toby Prinz Beach Park in honor of the late Rogers Park activist.

Changing the name of the Jarvis Beach and Park to the Marion Mahony Griffin Beach and Park would add to the Park District's portfolio of parks named in honor of accomplished women.

Little is Known about R. J. Jarvis or if He Even Existed

Of course, renaming the park and beach in honor of Ms. Mahony Griffin would mean supplanting the name "Jarvis." A number of those who expressed opposition to the proposal expressed the view that changing the name would dishonor the history of Rogers Park and the "Jarvis family."

Little is known about Mr. Jarvis. According to the Chicago Park District website, the Jarvis Park and Beach was so named because it is located at the end of Jarvis Avenue. According to a street guide provided by the Chicago History Museum, Jarvis Avenue was named after "R.J. Jarvis," who the guide says was a friend of the Rogers and Touhy families, the founders of Rogers Park. However, neither the Chicago History Museum, nor the Rogers Park West Ridge Historical Society has been able to provide any additional information to support this assertion.

In fact, it is possible that R.J. Jarvis never existed. A University of Illinois at Chicago researcher reported that his examination of census records and digitized editions of the Chicago Tribune and other newspapers revealed no record of an "R.J. Jarvis" in the Rogers Park area during the second half of the 19th century or early decades of the 20th century.

His research indicates it is possible that Jarvis simply was an arbitrary name assigned to the street. The street originally was named Bryan Street after a prominent Rogers Park land owner. In April, 1913, the City Council renamed hundreds of streets in Chicago in an attempt to rationalize street nomenclature and eliminate duplicate names. Bryan Street was renamed Juniata Street, apparently because there was a "Bryan Place" elsewhere in the City.

In December 1913, the City Council voted to change the name Juniata Street to Jarvis Street. No reason was given, though "Jarvis" was on a long list of acceptable street names in a 1912 report to the City Council. In addition to names that commemorated places and people, the City wanted names that were easy to pronounce, but distinct enough to be remembered. According to a Chicago Tribune report at the time, the Chicago City Club recommended that Juniata Street be renamed Joliet Street, but there is no record as to why the name Jarvis was selected.

Of course, it is possible that the name R.J. Jarvis was overlooked by the UIC researcher in the documents he searched. The Jarvis name also could have been misread by those indexing census records, or he could have lived in the area in between the years the census was taken. But the fact that no one has come forward with any information about an R.J Jarvis other than the one sentence explanation in a street guide leads to a strong presumption that he may never have existed.

And even if by chance an R.J. Jarvis did exist, his impact on the Rogers Park community and the world at large is at best negligible, certainly in comparison to Marion Mahony Griffin's accomplishments. In short, I find no historical injury in renaming the beach and park after a woman whose contributions to the world and our community are clear and unquestioned, especially since the Jarvis name will continue as a street, a commercial district and a Red Line Station.