Bill Hinchliff remembers spending time at The Kenilworth Club as a teen during the 50s. On April 29, he’ll be back at the club to discuss the importance of the building and its preservation.
Completed in 1907, The Kenilworth Club is considered “as a masterpiece – perhaps the masterpiece – of George W. Maher’s mature prairie style,” according to the club’s website.
“[Maher] worked in the style of Wright,” Hinchliff said. “He lived in Kenilworth, he did some 40 buildings here.”
Check back tomorrow for a map of Maher’s buildings in Kenilworth, along with their history.
Like other prairie styles, Maher’s incorporated a lot of autumn colors and earthy hues. The horizontal structure extends over the site “almost as if it were hugging the ground,” according to a guide about Maher’s work. The art-glass windows were also created to blend in with the landscape outside and were produced in Chicago.
Hinchliff, who now lives in Chicago, says it’s important for him to return because he wanted to garner interest, appreciation and membership for The Kenilworth Club.
“It’s an important building, it should be recognized,” Hinchliff said. “Beyond that, there’s the practical issue: This is a club that depends on income from membership and rentals – they need more members.”
What many residents don’t realize is that the club has “astronomical property taxes,” according to Lisa Lauren, director, The Kenilworth Club & Assembly Hall Association.
Lauren says operation costs are also high for the 105-year-old building. The club generates revenue from membership, rentals and events, but both Lauren and Hinchliff say preserving the structure is also dependent on people appreciating and cherishing the architecture’s beauty.
Of the 40 buildings Maher built in Kenilworth, only 38 remain. Hinchliff says if people don’t learn to appreciate it, the buildings could be torn down.
“Maher is not as important as Franklin Lloyd Wright, nobody can live up to the same status, but Maher is not too far down the list among prairie style architects,” Hinchliff said. “Kenilworth is the Oak Park of George W. Maher.”