A friend of mine from long ago and far away drove thirty miles into Chicago, so we could visit, and so she could show me Ragdale, thirty miles outside of Chicago and a passion of hers.

Grounds, buildings, rooms with names, bookshelves rich with the spirits of those who’ve spent time here. Each artist in residence leaves something behind–words in a journal, a book, a painting, musical notes, wishes in the well.

Maybe that’s why the air itself feels layered and rich.

Or maybe the air feels that way because the place was first loved by a family of artists–the Shaws. Howard Van Doren Shaw was the architect who bought the property (which included an old farmhouse and a barn). In 1897 he built the house that still stands.

Howard’s wife, Frances, is described as a “poet, writer, and traveler [who] lived at Ragdale six months of the year, while her three children were growing up.”

The family ultimately included two architects, a painter, two poets, a sculptor, a cartoonist, and a weaver.

Ragdale is now an artist residency program.

At Ragdale we believe that time and space are not luxuries but necessary elements for creating important new work. Ragdale provides these necessities to artists in the form of 2-6 week residencies. Add eleven other creative individuals to the mix, acres of idyllic prairie, a family-style dinner each night, and you have Ragdale…

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