August 7, 2010
Kell's "Cottage": Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous
Let's be honest. Chicago was the poster child of industrial revolution pollution at the end of the nineteenth century; dirty streets, dirty air, dirty water and summer heat compounded the unpleasant situation. Northern winters provided little attraction either. What's a millionaire to do?
A few of Chicago's elite found respite on the beaches of Jekyll Island, one of four barrier islands off the coast of Georgia. It was there that the Jekyll Island Club was established in 1886 with Cyrus McCormick, Jr., Marshall Field and Nathaniel K. Fairbank eventually joining J. P. Morgan, William Rockefeller and Joseph Pulitzer for a little fun in the sun. Fairbank, who had made his fortune as a lard processor and soap maker, was one of the founding members of Chicago's elite Chicago Club and was invited to join the Jekyll Island Club during its inaugural season in 1886. The family first visited the island in 1888 and almost immediately began construction on their cottage. It was completed in 1890 on lot 15, on the west side facing the Jekyll River and would later be referred to as "the most convenient and desirable site on the island." It was right next door to the Jekyll Island Club House.
The two story home boasted six bedrooms, two bathrooms, a library, living room, kitchen, and, of course, a servant's quarters. Completely surrounded by porches, it made for a comfortable refuge and beautifully exemplifies many of the architectural characteristics of shingle homes of the 1890s.
For the most part, Fairbank enjoyed his days on Jekyll Island. Activities on the Island centered around the family and hunting, fishing, swimming and boating filled the days. But these were also difficult years for Fairbank: he suffered a terrible financial loss in 1893, the loss of his wife in 1895, and the verdict of a highly publicized trial in 1896 (which will be covered in another post. In 1903, Fairbank passed away. After Fairbank's death, the home was later purchased by Walton Ferguson, Ralph Strassburger and Marjorie Thayer and finally demolished in 1944.
The Jekyll Island Cottage Colony by June Hall McCash
The Jekyll Island Club: Southern Haven for America's Millionaires by William Barton McCash and June Hall McCash
Their Gilded Cage: The Jekyll Island Club Members by Richard Jay Hutto, June Hall McCash, Stillman Rockefeller
"This Little Piggie Went to Market: The Advertising of N. K. Fairbank & Co."
Photo Credit: Fairbank Cottage, Jekyll Island Museum