The Gardener's Cottage in Riverside, Illinois
Living in A "small Masterpiece" by Frank Lloyd Wright, Jens Jensen, and Frederick Law OlmstedBook - 2009
Riverside, Illinois, was designed in 1869 by renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted and his architect partner Calvert Vaux. Their unique design, which followed the contours of the landscape and emphasized open spaces, inspired the greatest architects of the time to undertake projects in Riverside. Among those projects was the Avery Coonley Estate, a rare joint effort by Frank Lloyd Wright and landscape architect Jens Jensen. At the center of the estate, itself a National Historic Landmark, sits the Gardener’s Cottage, a small but unassuming masterpiece built for the estate’s gardener and his wife. The cottage matches the architectural aesthetic of the estate, and its naturalistic, stunning gardens reflect the overall emphasis on landscape and nature in Riverside.
But what is it truly like to live within a historic work of architectural art? Current owner and gardening writer Cathy Jean Maloney here records her discoveries and personal reflections on living in the Gardener’s Cottage with her family. In The Gardener’s Cottage in Riverside, Illinois, Maloney describes the cottage’s beginnings, providing biographical background and design insight into the house itself and Riverside’s key creators. She also highlights the often overlooked beauty of the cottage and illustrates how it is emblematic of Wright and Jensen’s holistic Prairie Style approach to building and landscape architecture. The size of the Gardener’s Cottage allows us to witness Wright’s aesthetic concerns in small detail and to understand his ideas on a more accessible and livable scale.
The Gardener’s Cottage is a welcome and original addition to the work on these world-renowned architects and planners. It not only celebrates their designs, but the simple daily beauty of living within them.