Below is a comprehensive timeline of Edward H. Bennett’s personal life and career.
It includes photos of Bennett and his family from Lake Forest College’s Edward H. Bennett collection.
Edward Herbert Bennett was born in Cheltenham, U.K. on May 12, 1874 to Edwin Charles and Margaret Bennett. Bennett had five siblings: Charles, Jessie, Helen, George, and Lewis.
In 1886 Bennett began attending the Merchant Venturer’s School in Bristol, U.K.
Bennett left the U.K. for San Francisco in 1890. His father sent him to California in hopes that he would become a rancher, but he went to work for an architect instead.
1890 - 1895
Bennett worked for architect Robert White from 1890 to 1895. During this time, he was mentored by architect Bernard R. Maybeck, an informal teacher to many. It was Maybeck’s friend, the philanthropist Phoebe A. Hearst, who later paid for Bennett’s schooling.
In 1895 Bennett left the U.S. for Paris, where he attended the École des Beaux-Arts to train as an architect.
1897 - 1899
Between 1897 and 1899, Bennett took a break from school to work for an architect in London. He returned to Paris in 1899 to finish his schooling at École.
Bennett graduated from École des Beaux-Arts in 1901.
In 1900 Bennett submitted work to the Royal Institute of British Architects’ Owen Jones Studentship and was awarded the Honorable Mention. Bennett again submitted work to the Royal Institute of British Architects’ Owen Jones Studentship in 1902, this time winning the Certificate of Election as Owen Jones Travelling Student. As his reward he received money for a tour of Italy, Sicily, Athens, and Istanbul. He started his tour in early March of 1902.
1902 - 1904
After his tour was over, Bennett returned to the U.S. and began working for George B. Post in New York City. He was employed by Post from September of 1902 to March of 1904.
Bennett first met Daniel H. Burnham in 1903. Burnham was in New York to create a plan for West Point, and required assistance. Peirce Anderson, a friend and classmate of Bennett’s from the École des Beaux-Arts, was working at Burnham’s Chicago office at the time and suggested Bennett for the job. Post agreed to loan Bennett to Burnham for this project, but Burnham would come to steal Bennett permanently after he realized how well they got on.
Bennett was called to Chicago by Burnham in March of 1904, where they did work for Chicago’s South Park District until September.
1904 - 1905
Bennett went to San Francisco with Burnham in September of 1904 to work on its city plan. Burnham left shortly after, leaving Bennett to take charge of the plan. The Burnham Plan of San Francisco was published in 1905.
Bennett returned to Chicago and settled in Lake Forest, IL in 1906.
The Merchant’s Club of Chicago began to sponsor the Chicago Plan committee in 1906. They brought Burnham and Bennett on to lead the Plan team.
1906 - 1909
Bennett worked on the Plan of Chicago from September of 1906 to July of 1909.
For more on the Plan of Chicago, click here.
The Plan of Chicago was presented to the public on July 4th,1909.
Bennett started his own architectural firm in 1910.
Bennett went on an overseas trip in 1910, visiting Egypt for the first time.
Daniel H. Burnham died at age 66 on June 1st, 1912.
For more information on Burnham and his relationship with Bennett, click here.
1913 - 1930
Bennett was named consulting architect to the Chicago Plan Commission in January of 1913. He continued to serve in this position until August of 1930, designing much of Chicago’s lake- and river-front and many of it’s bridges in the interim.
For more information on Bennett's work with the CPC, click here.
Bennett married Catherine Jones of Lake Forest on October 18th, 1913.
1915 - 1916
Between 1915 and 1916 Bennett planned and constructed Bagatelle, his home in Lake Forest, so named because he modelled it after the Château de Bagatelle in Paris. It still stands at 89 E. Deerpath, Lake Forest, IL. Below are Bennett's photographs of Bagatelle's interior and garden.
Bennett’s only child, Edward Herbert "Ted" Bennett Jr., was born in 1916. Below are some of Bennett's photographs of Ted.
1916 - 1930
In 1916, Bennett began designing the landscaping and architectural embellishments of Grant Park, which was completed in 1930.
Bennett took a trip to Europe with Catherine and Ted in 1923.
By 1924, Bennett had partnered with William E. Parsons and Harry T. Frost to form the firm Bennett, Parsons and Frost. For more information on Bennett's firm and career, click here.
Bennett’s wife Catherine died in May of 1925 from scarlet fever.
Bennett was awarded Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor in 1927.
1927 - 1937
In 1927 Bennett was made Chairman of the Board of Architects in charge of the Federal Triangle in Washington, D.C. He served until 1937, having designed the Apex building, the landscaping, and the U.S. Botanic Garden himself.
1928 - 1933
Bennett was part of the team of architects for the 1933 Century of Progress Exposition from 1928 to 1933. He was put in charge of the ground plan for the exposition as well as the Federal Building.
On January 5th, 1930, Bennett married his second wife, Olive Mary Holden Mead, a horsewoman, who had two children from her previous marriage: Betty and Joseph.
Bennett's photos of he and Olive are displayed below.
Bennett purchased Deerpath Farm in 1930. It is located at 26339 N Farwell Rd, Mettawa, IL and is still owned by his descendants.
Bennett designed and built a personal studio on the south grounds of Bagatelle in 1936.
Bennett sold his Chicago residence at E. Burton Place in 1937 and moved to Lake Forest full time in January of 1938. In the following years he would also visit and live at Long Lane Farm Road, Tryon, North Carolina and Ghost Ranch, Abiquiu, New Mexico. Below are some of Bennett's photos from Tryon and Ghost Ranch.
In 1944, after the deaths of his partners Parsons and Frost in 1938 and 1944, respectively, Bennett retired and closed his firm. In retirement, he returned to his original form, water colors, and frequently displayed his work in galleries.
Edward Herbert Bennett III, the son of Edward H. "Ted" Bennett Jr. and his first wife Harriet, was born in 1945.
In 1953 Bennett donated the bulk of his work materials to the Art Institute of Chicago.
Bennett died at his home in Tryon, North Carolina on October 18th, 1954. He was 80 years old.
Below are some photographs taken of him throughout the years.
Olive, Bennett’s wife, died in Tryon on December 30th, 1969, 15 years after her husband passed.
In the 70s and 80s, Ted Bennett donated more materials of his father's to the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1982 the Art Institute of Chicago held an exhibition to honor Bennett and published a catalogue of his work alongside a biography by Joan E. Draper.
Ted Bennett died in 1994, leaving behind his second wife, Katherine "Kay" Bennett, his son, Edward H. Bennett III, and his three stepsons, David C. Phillips II and twins William A. Phillips and Frederick S. Phillips.
On November 15, 2008, Edward H. Bennett III and his wife Marcia O. Bennett donated some remaining papers, photos, etc. of Bennett’s to Lake Forest College, and they now form this collection.