William Eugene Drummond
William Eugene Drummond (March 28, 1876 – September 13, 1948) was a Chicago Prairie School architect.
Early Years and Education
He was born in Newark, New Jersey, the son of carpenter and cabinet maker Eugene Drummond and his wife Ida Marietta Lozier. The motto of the Drummond family was and is “Best ye can - aye - and be kind.” The family relocated from Newark to Chicago in 1886; William was ten. The Drummonds settled on the west side of Chicago, in Austin, at 813 Central Avenue. William Drummond grew up in the village of Austin and attended the Austin public schools. The Drummond family house is standing as ot underwent at the hands of William and Eugene. William learned much in the remodeling of the family house. He and his father built the present house around and over the old house, with the family still living in it. The family owned the house until 1966. William was fifteen years older than his brother Frank; there were five girls between them. All seven Drummond children grew up in the village of Austin.
William Drummond was admitted to the University of Illinois School of Architecture in 1899, at the same time that fellow Prairie School architect Walter Burley Griffin was attending there. However, financial difficulties forced Drummond leave after one year.
The Prairie School Years
Thereafter, Drummond began working in Chicago in the firm of architect Louis Sullivan. Several months later, he went to work for Frank Lloyd Wright. Drummond would serve as the chief draftsman for several well-known Wright’s commissions, including the home of Edwin and Mamah Borthwick Cheney in Oak Park, the Frederick Robie House in Chicago, the Susan Lawrence Dana House in Springfield, IL, and the Larkin Company Administration Building in Buffalo. Drummond obtained his architect’s license in 1901. In the years 1901-1905 he worked for Wright part-time while also working full-time for Richard E. Schmidt (1901-1902) and Daniel H. Burnham (1903-1905). Drummond returned to full-time employment with Wright from 1905 to 1909, when disagreement about pay caused him to leave Wright’s studio. But Drummond was a key figure in Wright’s studio during its most productive Prairie years. As Wright’s son, John, relates:
“William Drummond, Francis Barry Byrne, Walter Burley Griffin, Albert McArthur (Albert Chase McArthur), Marion Mahony, Isabel Roberts and George Willis were the draftsmen. Five men, two women. They wore flowing ties, and smocks suitable to the realm. The men wore their hair like Papa, all except Albert, he didn’t have enough hair. They worshiped Papa! Papa liked them! I know that each one of them was then making valuable contributions to the pioneering of the modern American architecture for which my father gets the full glory, headaches and recognition today! ”
In 1907 Drummond married Clara Alice McCulloch Christian (1874-1938), a woman several years his senior whose first husband died of tuberculosis. Their union produced three sons: Robert, William and Alan. In 1910, Mary Roberts, Isabel Roberts’ mother, sold the property next to their celebrated River Forest, IL, Isabel Roberts House, to their friend and associate William Drummond, who built his own Prairie style home there.
Upon parting ways with Wright, Drummond went into private practice, even though he had already undertaken his first commission in 1908, the First Congregational Church of Austin. In 1912 he went into partnership with Louis Guenzel (1860–1956), who had been a draftsman for Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan. Isabel Roberts worked for Guenzel and Drummond for about a year. The partnership dissolved just after the start of World War I, in 1915.
Drummond continued his independent practice thereafter, designing churches, residences and small commercial buildings in the Prairie style, his work in the pure Prairie idiom culminating in the delightfully elegant Brookfield Kindergarten (also known as the Hilly House) of 1920 in Brookfield, Illinois.
Drummond was among those who submitted designs in the famous 1922 competition for the Chicago Tribune Building. His entry is daringly original, with a huge tri-parti rectangular crown, perforated and carved in such a way that it defies conventional architectural descriptive terms. With oversize urn forms at the base of the crown, scooped recesses and geometric ornament at its summit, the building offered a dynamic melding of Prairie and Art Moderne that, had it been chosen, would have become an immediate and vibrant landmark on the Chicago skyline, without harking back to any historic style (as did the winning entry by architects John Mead Howells and Raymond Hood). Drummond's design still looks innovative ninety years later and compares favorably to early 21st century skyscraper design.
The prevailing view of his later career is that, as the public taste changed during the 1920s, Drummond’s work bore less of the hallmarks of the Prairie School. Instead, his work was sometimes characterized by English cottage and Tudor elements, many in River Forest, typified by the Edward W. Scott Residence (1928) with its massive chimney, steeply pitched gables and paired multi-story bay window towers, and by the River Forest Public Library (1928–1930).
William Drummond took part in the planning commission of River Forest throughout the 1920s and 1930s, while also remodeling several of Wright's designs. Shortly before his death on September 13, 1946, Drummond published a book detailing a plan to redesign the United States Capitol. Drummond's final resting place is Forest Home Cemetery, Forest Park, Cook County, Illinois.
Partial Listing of Work by William Drummond
- Abajo Mountains (Utah) Resort (project)
- Residence (1901); 742 Franklin Street, River Forest IL
- L. Griffen house project (1902); Buena Park (Chicago) IL
- L. Wolff house (circa 1903); 4234 N Hazel, Chicago, IL
- Dexter M. Ferry, Jr. House project (1910); Grosse Pointe, MI
- John Broughton House (1908), 530 Keystone Avenue, River Forest, IL
- William E. Drummond Residence (1910); 559 Edgewood Place, River Forest, IL
- Albert W. Muther Residence (1910-1912); 560 (580) Edgewood Place, River Forest, IL>
- Charles Barr Residence (1910-1912); 7234 Quick Street, River Forest, IL
- Curtis Yelland House (1911); 37 River Heights Road, Mason City, IA
- River Forest Methodist Church (1912); 7070 Lake Street, River Forest, IL
- River Forest Bank Building (1912); River Forest, IL
- Gordon Abbott House (1912); 105 N. Grant, Hinsdale, IL
- George Stahmer House (1913); Fourth Street and Chicago Avenue, Maywood, IL
- River Forest Women’s Club (1913); 526 Ashland Avenue, River Forest, IL
- John B. Franke House, 2131 Forest Park Blvd, Ft Wayne, IN (1914) - with Barry Byrne
- Ralph S. Baker House (1914-1915); 1226 Ashland Avenue, Wilmette, IL
- John A. Klesert House (1915); Keystone Avenue, River Forest IL
- First Congregational Church (1915); 5701 West Midway Park, Chicago, IL 60644
- Shedd Park Fieldhouse (1917); 3660 West 23rd Street, Chicago, IL
- Coonley Estate “Thorncroft” (1919-1921); Riverside, IL
- Brookfield Kindergarten [aka Hilly House] (1920); 3601 Forest Avenue, Brookfield, IL
- Hollywood Community Hall (1921); Washington and Hollywood, Hollywood (Brookfield), IL
- Isabel Roberts House Remodeling (1922); Edgewood Place, River Forest IL
- Langhorne Residence Remodeling (1924-1940); Chicago, IL
- Badenoch House (1925); 555 Edgewood Place, River Forest IL
- O. B. Higgins Residence (1927); 535 Edgewood Place, River Forest IL
- Edward W. Scott Residence (1928); 619 Keystone, River Forest, IL
- River Forest Public Library (1928-1930); River Forest, IL
- Rookery Building Remodeling (1930); Chicago IL
- Washington Capital Redevelopment (1946-1947); Washington, DC
- United States Census, 1880
- Frank Olderr, Drummond Family Researcher
- My Father: Frank Lloyd Wright by John Lloyd Wright; 1992; page 35.
- Solomonson, Katherine, "The Chicago Tribune Tower Competition, 2001, page 156.
- Various references including H. Allen Brooks, "The Prairie School", 1972