Empire of Deception: The Incredible Story of a Master Swindler Who Seduced a City and Captivated the Nation
Dean Jobb

A Virtual (Zoom) Presentation
Tuesday, January 26, 2021
6:30-7:30 pm
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It was a time of unregulated madness. And nowhere was it madder than in Chicago at the dawn of the Roaring Twenties. Enter a slick, smooth-talking, charismatic lawyer named Leo Koretz, an Evanston resident, who enticed hundreds of people to invest as much as $30 million—upward of $400 million today—in phantom timberland and nonexistent oil wells in Panama. This rip-roaring tale of greed, financial corruption, dirty politics, over-the-top and under-the-radar deceit, illicit sex, and a brilliant and wildly charming con man on the town, then on the lam, is not only a rich and detailed account of a man and an era; it’s a fascinating look at the methods of swindlers throughout history.

As Model Ts rumbled down Michigan Avenue, gang-war shootings announced Al Capone’s rise to underworld domination. As bedecked partygoers thronged to the Drake Hotel’s opulent banquet rooms, corrupt politicians held court in thriving speakeasies and the frenzy of stock market gambling was rampant. Leo Koretz was the Bernie Madoff of his day, and Dean Jobb shows us that the American dream of easy wealth is a timeless commodity.

“Intoxicating and impressively researched, Jobb’s immorality tale provides a sobering post-Madoff reminder that those who think everything is theirs for the taking are destined to be taken.” —The New York Times Book Review 

Dean Jobb is an award-winning author and journalist and a professor at the University of King’s College in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he teaches in the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction and Journalism programs. He specializes in true crime and his monthly column on the genre, “Stranger Than Fiction,” appears in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. He is also a contributing writer for the Chicago Review of Books and reviews nonfiction for the Washington Independent Review of Books. During his 35-year career as a newspaper staff writer and freelance journalist, he has written features and commentaries on an array of subjects – history, current events, law, business, politics, media ethics, science, travel, and the craft of nonfiction. His new book, The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream, coming in July 2021 from Algonquin Books, recreates the hunt for a Victorian Era serial killer who murdered as many as ten people in the U.S., Canada and England, including four in the Chicago area. 

This presentation will take place virtually on Zoom.
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Modern in the Middle
Chicago Houses 1929-75
Susan Benjamin and Michelangelo Sabatino

A Virtual (Zoom) Presentation
Tuesday, February 23, 2021
6:30-7:30 pm
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Admission: $10. EHC Members are free!
Admission can be paid online.
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The first survey of the classic twentieth-century houses that defined American Midwestern modernism.

Famed as the birthplace of that icon of twentieth-century architecture, the skyscraper, Chicago also cultivated a more humble but no less consequential form of modernism–the private residence. Modern in the Middle: Chicago Houses 1929-75 explores the substantial yet overlooked role that Chicago and its suburbs played in the development of the modern single-family house in the twentieth century. In a city often associated with the outsize reputations of Frank Lloyd Wright and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, the examples discussed in this generously illustrated book expand and enrich the story of the region’s built environment.

Authors Susan Benjamin and Michelangelo Sabatino survey dozens of influential houses by architects whose contributions are ripe for reappraisal, such as Paul Schweikher, Harry Weese, Keck & Keck, and William Pereira. From the bold, early example of the “Battledeck House” by Henry Dubin (1930) to John Vinci and Lawrence Kenny’s gem the Freeark House (1975), the generation-spanning residences discussed here reveal how these architects contended with climate and natural setting while negotiating the dominant influences of Wright and Mies. They also reveal how residential clients–typically middle-class professionals, progressive in their thinking–helped to trailblaze modern architecture in America. Though reflecting different approaches to site, space, structure, and materials, the examples in Modern in the Middle reveal an abundance of astonishing houses that have never been collected into one study–until now.

Michelangelo Sabatino directs the Ph.D. program in architecture and is the inaugural John Vinci Distinguished Research Fellow at the Illinois Institute of Technology. As an architect, preservationist, and historian, his research broadly addresses intersections across culture, technology, and design in the built and natural environment. He has authored and co-authored numerous books including Pride in Modesty: Modernist Architecture and the Vernacular Tradition in Italy (2011) recipient of the Society of Architectural Historians’ Alice Davis Hitchcock Award, Canada: Modern Architectures in History (2016), Avant-Garde in the Cornfields: Architecture, Landscape, and Preservation in New Harmony (2019), and Making Houston Modern: The Life and Architecture of Howard Barnstone (2020).

Susan Benjamin is a noted historic preservationist and published architectural historian based in Chicago. Her office, Benjamin Historic Certifications, has initiated the landmarking of notable historic buildings of all periods, in Chicago as well as throughout Illinois. Benjamin lectures frequently on a wide variety of topics, from historic landscapes to Chicago’s residential architecture of the nineteenth century to the present. She is co-author, with architect Stuart Cohen, of two important books on historic residential architecture in Chicago: North Shore Chicago, Houses of the Lakefront Suburbs: 1890-1940 (Acanthus Press, 2004) and Great Houses of Chicago: 1871-1921 (Acanthus Press, 2008).

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The World of Juliette Kinzie: Chicago Before the Fire
Ann Durkin Keating

A Virtual (Zoom) Presentation
Tuesday, March 23, 2021
6:30-7:30 pm
Admission: $10. EHC Members are free!
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Join us for a presentation by Ann Durkin Keating as she discusses her book, The World of Juliette Kinzie.

When Juliette Kinzie first visited Chicago in 1831, it was anything but a city. An outpost in the shadow of Fort Dearborn, it had no streets, no sidewalks, no schools, no river-spanning bridges. And with two hundred disconnected residents, it lacked any sense of community. In the decades that followed, not only did Juliette witness the city’s transition from Indian country to industrial center, but she was instrumental in its development.

Juliette is one of Chicago’s forgotten founders. Early Chicago is often presented as “a man’s city,” but women like Juliette worked to create an urban and urbane world, often within their own parlors. With The World of Juliette Kinzie, we finally get to experience the rise of Chicago from the view of one of its most important founding mothers.

Ann Durkin Keating, one of the foremost experts on nineteenth-century Chicago, offers a moving portrait of a trailblazing and complicated woman. Keating takes us to the corner of Cass and Michigan (now Wabash and Hubbard), Juliette’s home base. Through Juliette’s eyes, our understanding of early Chicago expands from a city of boosters and speculators to include the world that women created in and between households. We see the development of Chicago society, first inspired by cities in the East and later coming into its own midwestern ways. We also see the city become a community, as it developed its intertwined religious, social, educational, and cultural institutions. Keating draws on a wealth of sources, including hundreds of Juliette’s personal letters, allowing Juliette to tell much of her story in her own words.

Juliette’s death in 1870, just a year before the infamous fire, seemed almost prescient. She left her beloved Chicago right before the physical city as she knew it vanished in flames. But now her history lives on. The World of Juliette Kinzie offers a new perspective on Chicago’s past and is a fitting tribute to one of the first women historians in the United States.

Ann Durkin Keating is Dr. C. Frederick Toenniges Professor of History at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois. She is coeditor of The Encyclopedia of Chicago, the editor of Chicago Neighborhoods and Suburbs: A Historical Guide, and the author of Rising Up from Indian Country: The Battle of Fort Dearborn and the Birth of Chicago, all published by the University of Chicago Press.

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The event is presented in partnership with the Evanston Women’s History Project.


Fortune and Faith in Old Chicago: A Dual Biography of Mayor Augustus Garrett and Seminary Founder Eliza Clark Garrett
Charles H. Cosgrove

A Virtual (Zoom) Presentation
Tuesday, April 13, 2021
6:30-7:30 pm
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Join us for a presentation by Charles H. Cosgrove as he discusses his engaging biography of Augustus Garrett and Eliza Clark Garrett. The book tells two equally compelling stories: an ambitious man’s struggle to succeed and the remarkable spiritual journey of a woman attempting to overcome tragedy. By contextualizing the couple’s lives within the rich social, political, business, and religious milieu of Chicago’s early urbanization, author Charles H. Cosgrove fills a gap in the history of the city in the mid-nineteenth century.

The Garretts moved from the Hudson River Valley to a nascent Chicago, where Augustus made his fortune in the land boom as an auctioneer and speculator. A mayor during the city’s formative period, Augustus was at the center of the first mayoral election scandal in Chicago. To save his honor, he resigned dramatically and found vindication in his reelection the following year. His story reveals much about the inner workings of Chicago politics and business in the antebellum era.

The couple had lost three young children to disease, and Eliza arrived in Chicago with deep emotional scars. Her journey exemplifies the struggles of sincere, pious women to come to terms with tragedy in an age when most people attributed unhappy events to divine punishment. Following Augustus’s premature death, Eliza developed plans to devote her estate to founding a women’s college and a school for ministerial training, and in 1853 she endowed a Methodist theological school, the Garrett Biblical Institute (now the Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary), thereby becoming the first woman in North America to found an institution of higher learning.

In addition to illuminating our understanding of Chicago from the 1830s to the 1850s, Fortune and Faith in Old Chicago explores American religious history, particularly Presbyterianism and Methodism, and its attention to gender shows how men and women experienced the same era in vastly different ways. The result is a rare, fascinating glimpse into old Chicago through the eyes of two of its important early residents.

Charles H. Cosgrove is Professor of Early Christian Literature and Director of Ph.D. Program at the Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois.

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