I enjoyed a great deal of personal satisfaction when I ordered a copy of The Autobiography of Irving K. Pond, edited by David Swan and Terry Tatum. You see, Irving Pond is responsible for the creation of The Chicago History Journal. Since Pond died in 1939, I suppose I should explain.
The Journal began on November 7, 2007 with the post, "The Fine Arts Building: Living History." Included in that entry was a recounting of my visit to the building and the advantageous meeting of David Swan. I also wrote, "It turned out that he was working on a history of the building and a book on the Pond brothers, Irving and Allen." True to his word, both books have now come to fruition.
Mr. Swan invited me to his end of the hall studio and it was while we were taking the few steps down the hall that I noticed the plaques next to the doors: Frank Lloyd Wright, Lorado Taft and the one next to Swan’s studio (Room 1022) was John T. McCutcheon, the famous Chicago Tribune cartoonist...
For over an hour Mr. Swan told me stories of 19-year-old Irving Pond who had done the initial drawings of the Pullman planned community under Solon Beman. Wishing I had had a tape recorder, I tried desperately to concentrate and make mental notes of people and topics I needed to investigate later.
And that is precisely what I did. The result was the creation of The Journal. And, all because, at the time, I had no idea who Irving K. Pond was.
Irving Kane Pond, born in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1857, was a Chicago architect. His career began in the firm of William Le Baron Jenney and Solon S. Beman and while there drew up the initial designs for George Pullman's company town. By 1885, Pond was ready to move on and with his brother Allen, formed the firm of Pond & Pond Architects.
According to the Newberry Library biography, "Pond & Pond's buildings typify Arts & Crafts-style architecture and are considered some of the best examples in Chicago. The firm designed several settlement and civic institutions including, Jane Addams Hull House, Northwestern Settlement, the American Correspondence School and Chicago Commons."
Irving, however, was interested in more than architecture. He was also involved in several literary organizations - The Little Room, The CliffDwellers and The Chicago Literary Club. Irving also wrote fiction, poetry and essays and a long list of his contributions to The Chicago Literary Club archives can be found here (scroll down). And, then there was the circus. He loved the circus and served as Vice-President of the Circus Fans Association.
But, until now there has not been an easily accessible book dedicated to this creative and eclectic early Chicagoan. Irving's autobiography, titled The Sons of Mary and Elihu, was only available on micro-film at the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The memoir was written between 1937 and 1939 and the entire manuscript was in pencil. Yes, pencil. Please note that including a brief preface, an introduction by Guy Szuberla, the lists of illustrations, buildings and projects, Swan's book is a hefty 588 pages. It is not recommended as a "beach book," but I also couldn't recommend it more strongly. It is a journey back in time with a man who was at the center of Chicago's rise, and he paid attention. He made notes, and they are all here.
The Autobiography of Irving K. Pond and The Book of the Fine Arts Building are both available directly from Hyoogen Press, Inc. The word "Hyoogen," by the way, is Japanese for the English word, "Expression." The Chicago History Journal is my expression of thanks to David Swan and Irving K. Pond for inspiring what has become my calling.