September 18, 2021 was the third meeting of the “Tea, Scones & Gardens Reading Group” in the Pool Pavilion at the Virginia Robinson Gardens. The 12 attendees enjoyed scones, cinnamon rolls, rugula, figs, and cucumber tea canapés as they discussed The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America. We celebrated the innovations initiated at the Chicago Exposition, including incandescent lights, the Ferris wheel, Cracker Jacks, and Shredded Wheat.
We explored the personalities involved in the complicated logistics to develop the venue, including such luminaries as Daniel Burnham, Frederick Law Olmsted, and Elias Disney. We recalled with horror the crimes committed by the psychopath H.H. Holmes. It’s no wonder Virginia and Harry Robinson and Leslie Brand (Virginia’s uncle) were forever changed after attending the fair! The architecture seen at the fair greatly influenced the design chosen for the Miradero, Leslie Brand’s home in Glendale, now the Brand Library. The fair also influenced the architectural style chosen for the main house of the Robinsons, built for Virginia by her father Nathaniel Dryden, who was influenced by Brand’s aesthetic.
The next meeting will be on December 18, 2021 at 10:30 am to discuss She Always Knew How: A Mae West Personal Biography by Charlotte Chandler. Mae was a frequent guest at dinner parties hosted by Virginia, and we will get to be entertained by her wit, talent, and quotable quotes. Don’t miss it!
Post by Patricia Cowett
Friends of Robinson Gardens Board Member
Co-chair of the Tea, Scones & Gardens Reading Group