Recap of April's Public Lectures

by SAH News | May 16, 2016
April 11: WTTW's Geoffrey Baer and Dan Protess - Presented by Pella Crafted Luxury

On Monday, April 11, 2016, SAH launched a series of lectures and programs in conjunction with Pella Crafted Luxury, in their newly opened showroom at the Chicago Merchandise Mart.  The showroom, several years in development, was designed by SAH members, architects Stuart Cohen, FAIA and Julie Hacker, AIA of Stuart Cohen and Julie Hacker Architects, Evanston, IL.  

WTTW (Chicago’s PBS station) Host Geoffrey Baer and Producer Dan Protess presented a preview of their well-received architectural series, “Ten That Changed America.”  The three programs produced for 2016 include “Ten Homes,” “Ten Parks,” and “Ten Towns,” which follow their 2014 program “Ten Buildings that changed America.”



After a reception generously hosted by Pella Crafted Luxury and a brief welcome by Jim Mansueto, SAH Executive Director Pauline Saliga welcomed the crowd of over 100 attendees and introduced the speakers. Geoffrey Baer and Dan Protess presented clips from each of the programs, which include interviews with SAH members Edward Bosley, Mary Corbin Sies, Gabrielle Esperdy, Paul Goldberger, Katerina Ruedi Ray, Francesca Russello Ammon, Robert A.M. Stern, Lynda Waggoner, Thaisa Way and Robin Williams. In the discussion that followed, attendees were treated to some “behind the scenes” stories and the logic behind the locations chosen for the series. The producers had consulted extensively with SAH during the series preparation. To learn more about the “Ten that Changed America” PBS series, visit


This event, part of SAH’s initiative to engage a broader public audience with the history of the built environment, was a huge success. SAH looks forward to continued ongoing collaboration with Pella Crafted Luxury. The next program, which has already sold out, is planned for June 16, 2016, and will feature three Chicago architects speaking about how Henry Hobson Richardson, Louis Sullivan, and Frank Lloyd Wright continue to influence their work. The June program is organized by SAH, The Glessner House Museum, and the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust, and hosted by Pella Crafted Luxury.   

April 20: On an Elder’s Trail: The Later Life of Charles M. Charnley

On Thursday April 20, 2016, SAH collaborated with The Newberry Library to present the program: “On an Elder’s Trail: The Later Life of Charles M. Charnley.”  Jack Perry Brown, former director of The Ryerson and Burnham Libraries at The Art Institute of Chicago, presented new research on the life and mysterious disappearance of Charles M. Charnley, the brother of the very private James Charnley who built the iconic Charnley House, which serves as SAH’s headquarters.  

After a welcome by both the Newberry Library and Pauline Saliga, the audience of over 100 attendees was regaled with Jack Brown’s findings as he “was waylaid by the information I found about James Charnley’s brother, Charles, on the way to researching the Charnley House.” According to his extensive research using newspapers, college yearbooks, phone directories, public birth and death records, and online genealogy records, Brown found that Charles had embezzled a significant sum from the Fourth Presbyterian Church, where he had served as an elder. He disappeared on Lake Street in Chicago, into a waiting carriage, despite a number of security guards keeping watch on him. He and his second wife abandoned their children, adopted assumed names, ran several hotels in both Canada and the U.S., and are buried in North Carolina, with the assumed names on the headstone. We were fortunate to have a direct descendent of the Charnley family attending the program, who had an opportunity to visit with Jack Brown and Pauline Saliga at the Charnley-Persky House earlier in the day. This research is a tantalizing step forward in SAH’s stewardship of Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright’s  Charnley-Persky House. 

Founded in 1940, the Society of Architectural Historians is an international nonprofit membership organization that promotes the study, interpretation and conservation of architecture, design, landscapes and urbanism worldwide. SAH serves a network of local, national and international institutions and individuals who, by profession or interest, focus on the built environment and its role in shaping contemporary life. SAH promotes meaningful public engagement with the history of the built environment through advocacy efforts, print and online publications, and local, national and international programs.

SAH thanks The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation
for its operating support.
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