Pleasant Home, Historical Society of Oak Park and River Forest

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This house/museum is the 1897 masterwork of Arts and Crafts architect George Washington Maher. Maher was intent on developing a true American style of architecture, not a local version of a European one. Thus was born the "motif-rhythm" theory of architecture, with ornaments created from symbols appropriate to the place and the people who lived there. Besides the repetition of the honeysuckle form in wrought iron and art glass, Maher designed lion heads into the furniture and other elements. The lion reflected the personality of the client and first resident, an eccentric banker named John Farson. Besides being an architectural mecca and a variation on the Frank Lloyd Wright theme, Pleasant Home also houses the local historical society, which occupies several rooms. (Plans are to move the historical society to its own building, probably the Cheney Mansion on Euclid Avenue, though this won't happen soon.) Changing exhibits focus on various aspects of Oak Park and River Forest history. These include the literary heritage (Hemingway and Edgar Rice Burroughs are sons) and the social evolution of the towns as suburbs.