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Thursday, March 17, 2016

Found in a Book: Mrs. Avery Coonley's Calling Card

I found this Brentano's envelope and Mrs. Avery Coonley's calling card (?) at a second hand bookstore in Connecticut. The calling card was in the envelope which I found on a shelf behind some books in the religion section where it obviously fell out of a book.


Initially I was more interested in the Brentano's envelope and had no idea who Mrs. Avery Coonley was. After a little research I believe this may have been Queene Ferry Coonley, 1874-1958, born Addie Elizabeth Ferry.

Among her list of achievements and activities Queene was a graduate of Vassar, a suffragist, a philanthropist, an advocate for progressive education, and in 1906 founded a school in Riverside, IL. In 1912 she founded what would become The Avery Coonley School in Downers Grove, IL which is still in operation. She commissioned works by Frank Lloyd Wright and helped get him out of financial ruin in later years. And in 1954 she published a book with Charlotte Krum titled, Great Thoughts: An Anthology of Sayings, Garnered Over the Years.


Born in Detroit, Queene lived for a time in Illinois until moving to Washington D.C. in 1912 after her husband's death. You can read a bit more about her here.


At first I assumed the envelope was from Brentano's bookstore, but I haven't been able to ID this logo. Most of the Brentano's bookstore logos I've come across use a blockier font. Any leads or ideas are welcome.



It's a curious thing that I found Queene's card in a Connecticut bookstore when we both have a connection to Riverside, Illinois. The church I grew up attending was in Riverside and as an adult I lived in an apartment overlooking that church. The first house I owned was in Brookfield, IL, the next town over. I've learned in my research that Brookfield asked Queene to fund their kindergarten and she did so in a big way: she bought the land, commissioned William E. Drummond to build the school, and underwrote the tuition fees.

Queene in 1950 [source; click to view images of the Coonley residence by Wright]
Riverside is a beautiful town. It was designed by Frederick Law Olmstead in the 1860s and is one of the first planned communities in the U.S. If you're interested, click here see my post on the beautiful Riverside Public Library.

I plan on doing more research on this fascinating woman. I'd love to find out how a girl who was given the name Addie Elizabeth at birth ended up going by the name Queene.

6 comments:

  1. I love this! And I love finding old things in book from used bookstores. I grabbed a copy of Wuhering Heights in Maine and it had a London metro ticket in it and I realized I'd bought a British copy :-D Good luck with the search!

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    1. Isn't it the best to find stuff in a book? (Other than boogers and food stains, of course.)

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  2. Of course I love this kind of sleuthing and you did a very good job. In case you had any doubts, you have definitely found the right person. Knowing that the address was about 2 miles from my house I had to do a little digging. Turns out her house is called Rosedale and it is pretty darn old for DC--1793. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosedale_(Washington,_D.C.)

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    1. Thanks, Thomas! I checked it out on Google maps...had no idea it was so old or so near your house.

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  3. I now know something about a park in DC that I knew nothing about. Queene's former house is currently owned by the Rosedale Conservancy and has a fascinating story itself.
    http://www.rosedaleconservancy.org/rosedales-history/

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    1. Amazing how the inter-state connections keep building. It's great that Frank Lloyd Wright encouraged the Coonley's to preserve the house and take care of the termite problem.

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