Thursday, October 6, 2011

Book Series Set on Historic Prairie Avenue to Debut in 2012

A new book series set on historic Prairie Ave. during the late-nineteenth century is scheduled for release next year. Book one, The Pursuit of Lucy Banning will be published in June 2012.

Avenue of Dreams
Boasting the three richest men—Marshall Field, Philip Armour, and George Pullman—in the city among its residents, Prairie Ave. was Chicago’s original “Gold Coast.”Author Olivia Newport created a “fictional wealthy family [the Bannings] and put them smack in the middle of this historic neighborhood.” Newport lives in Colorado Springs, but lived in Illinois for a time. The series name is “Avenue of Dreams,” which perfectly describes Prairie Ave. during its heyday. The series starts in 1892 and concludes in 1896.

The Biggest and Most Spectacular
The Harriet F. Rees home is seeking landmark status.
Probably the most exciting time to live on Prairie Ave. was during the World’s Columbian Exhibition of 1893. The World’s Fair was one of the great turning points in Chicago history. With the eyes of the world focused on the Windy City, Chicago had a lot riding on the fair’s success. Many prominent Prairie Ave. residents campaigned to bring the exhibition to the city; they also worked hard to ensure it was the biggest and most spectacular World’s Fair in history.

Survivors Remain
Most of the beautiful homes that lined the avenue are long gone. A few remain, including the Glessner House Museum at 18th and S. Prairie. Another survivor, the Harriet F. Rees home is seeking preliminary landmark status. The home at 2110 S. Prairie sits just outside of the protected Prairie Ave. historic district.

To keep track of Lucy Banning and the rest of the series set on Prairie Ave., be sure to read Olivia Newport’s blog and feel free to leave a comment or ask a question; she’d love to hear from you.

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