"Every time I go there they speak of you and wonder what you are doing and wish you were back."
--Peirce Anderson to Edward H. Bennett, Undated
William Peirce Anderson (1870 – 1924) was an American architect who attended Paris' École des Beaux-Arts, where he became friends with Edward H. Bennett. After graduation, he went to work for Daniel H. Burnham’s Chicago firm. It was Anderson who suggested that Burnham work with Bennett in the first place. Located below is a letter that Anderson wrote to Bennett during their school days along with photos and one of his sketches, all from Lake Forest College's Edward H. Bennett Collection.
20 Rue Jacob
My Dear ‘Edouard’:
Your Christmas card again reminds me that I am gradually getting to deserve a worse reputation as a correspondent than yourself. For a time everybody, from Robard to the MacKayes and your friends from San Francisco, did nothing but heap reproaches on your memory. Robard proposed one day that we should both meet one evening in his room with the avowed intention to “piétiner sur le portrait de Bennett.” He has since heard from you and seems to feel better. Your Christmas letter to the people of rue Cambon was handed me to read—can you imagine in what circumstances! It was during the “messe de minuit” at St. Eustache Christmas Eve. The MacKayes have never been contented since you left. Mrs. MacKaye said only a week ago “I can’t reconcile myself at the absence of Edouard.” Every time I go there they speak of you and wonder what you are doing and wish you were back. And many in the [unknown] this glasses are raised in your name. I usually see them once a week—oftenest on Sunday as of old. They have been very kind to my mother since her arrival. On Christmas day, at dinner [unknown] Madam Van Piet. I sat next to Mrs. MacKaye and we had a little reminiscent chat about the day just one year ago before, when you and they met for the first time:
You need not regret the fact that you are not here for the God-boeuf Rougevin [unknown] of projets: for as the enclosed clippings will tell you nobody is doing any projets. The closing of the school, [unknown] in the first class the Godboeuf, the Dec.-Jan. projet, the [unknown] and an esquisse; in the second class the two projets running Nov. Dec. Jan. Feb. and an esquisse. Pretty tough on the 2nd class that had nothing to do with starting the trouble. Lots of the fellows are sore over it. Hunt who can’t get into the first class until end of April, Potter, who is getting close to the age limit & needs five values, Barber who wants to do his diploma in June—not to mention the fellows who got in the school at the October exams and who won’t be able to begin an analytique until March.
I like very much your friends from Frisco. Owing to the firm resolution to do much more work this winter than I did last I have been able to see only a little of them, as of everybody else—even the MacKayes. The two are of strikingly different types aren’t they? Your friend is certainly very interesting. Unavoidably I found myself constantly comparing her with another friend of yours. There is a plaintive little note in her voice that somehow appeals to you. She is painting a sort of decorative frieze for her atelier—a landscape showing some of the scenery of Frisco—a very pretty piece of work. They asked me to a Welsh Rarebit one evening and introduced me to some of their friends—the girls who came with them I think. I also met “the Maybecks” one evening at their house. The club gave a dance finally—it was a couple of weeks ago—and Adi seemed to have a good time. Thus far the architects ball predicament shows no sign of presenting itself, for the lady across the sea seems bound to New York. Adi, if I remember right, expects to see you at that ball, so you better make your preparations. It is to be the 11th of January.
Hope to hear your health is better.
Sincerely, W. P. A.
I owe you two more apologies—one on account of the enclosed envelope which I found at the atelier long ago; and another for the programme which I have collected for you but not sent.