"That Plan work was one of the romances of my life & I hope a continuing source of joy to you."
--Charles Norton to Edward H. Bennett, 12/28/1910
Charles Dyer Norton (1871 – 1923) was an American businessman who took an interest in funding city planning. He was president of the Chicago Merchants Club in 1906 when he invited Daniel Burnham to undertake the Plan of Chicago, and he served as chair of the Chicago Plan committee from 1906-1909. In 1910, he was made personal secretary to U.S. President William H. Taft, and so he left Chicago for Washington. Below are some letters from Lake Forest College's Edward H. Bennett Collection, one of them written to Bennett as condolence after Daniel Burnham's death in 1912.
My dear Bennett
I recognize your hand in the superb volume of the Plan which becomes my choicest possession and as I acknowledge every letter I particularly acknowledge to you my obligation for it was comparatively easy to write the letters and an immense task to gather and extra illustrate and bind them. Again a thousand thanks my dear Bennett. Think how grateful Garry Norton will be fifty years hence when he and his boys look over the book and when he, I hope, will believe all the good things the letters say, which I cannot do!
Alas that it is over. That Plan work was one of the romances of my life & I hope a continuing source of joy to you.
Are you very busy? Have you time to think about a possible hotel at Panama? And to go there if necessary? It is not a certain thing but it may come to bass that I can offer you such a chance to plan a low patio structure beside tropical sea.
Mrs. Norton, Garry, Lucia all send you their affectionate regards and wishes for a Happy New Year in which Kim & I join. We go back on Sunday to Washington.
Dec 28 1910
June 1, 1912
My dear Bennett
Your tragic message brings you very close to me, and in the keen pang of sorrow [unknown] the loss of our great leader there comes a feeling of thankfulness that you are young. For you are the son of his spirit, the heir to his noblest work.
My dear Bennett I am shot through and through. Burnham gone. Millet gone. McKim Saint Gaudens all these old young heroes gone. It makes me feel old and sad and lonely and as I try to realize that he is dead there in Heidelberg, I know that the best thing life and work has brought to me has been the contact with him & the fight under his flag.
Give to Mrs. Burnham my deepest sympathy. And come and see me at Glen Cove when you can.
And don’t forget old man that an older man leans on your remembrance & your affection. What a glorious life he had.