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The Benjamin Marshall Society
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About the Benjamin Marshall Society

The Benjamin Marshall Society was founded by Jane and Didier Lepauw in 2002. The Board of Directors are Jane Lepauw, Didier Lepauw, Dorothy Ehrhard (grand-daughter of Benjamin Marshall) Mary N. Riley, Acting Secretary William McCluskey, and Treasurer Carolyn Selke, great grandaughter of Benjamin Marshall. The members of the Executive Committee are Didier Lepauw, William McCluskey, Mary N. Riley, Carolyn Selke, Steven Monz, Dawn Felber, Janet Chevrud, Jennifer McGregor, Kathy Knight, Brandon Womak, and Curtiss Belt. The Honorary Chairman is John W. Rutledge.

Former Honorary Chairmen are architect Lucien Lagrange and Thomas McMenamin, Chairman of Masuda, Funai, Eifert & Mitchell, LTD, Richard H. Driehaus.

The mission of the Benjamin Marshall Society is to educate the public and revive Benjamin Marshall's dialogue on the civic responsibility of the urban architect and the role of architecture, planning, and design in the urban environment and in society as a whole.

So little is known about the architect of Chicago's Drake Hotel and his many other famous iconic public buildings and residential landmarks. They include his creation of East Lake Shore Drive, in addition to the Edgewater Beach Hotel, the South Shore Cultural Center, the Blackstone Hotel, the Blackstone Theater (now the Merle Reskin Theater).

The Benjamin Marshall Society is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization. All donations to the Society are tax-deductible to the extent of the law.


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Benjamin H. Marshall (1874-1944) was a major influence in the architectural history of modern Chicago. Marshall “created traditionally detailed buildings that functioned within modern society” ingeniously juxtaposing “conservative and modern features”. Self-taught architect extraordinaire, Marshall became a full-fledged partner at the architectural firm of Marble & Wilson when he was only 19. The pioneer of East Lake Shore Drive including the Drake Hotel, he was obstinate in his vision of a greater urban plan that took its cue from Burnham’s conservation of the lakefront. Marshall fundamentally defined the "new" urban Chicago between his Blackstone Hotel on south Michigan Avenue and East Lake Shore Drive. While building grand hotels, residences, theaters, even factory plants mostly in Chicago, he built and designed from New York to Los Angeles. His life was notoriously colorful, even tragic, having been the architect of the ill-famed Iroquois Theater where in 1903, so many people perished in one of the worst fires in American history. With his "Great Gatsby" personality, extravagant lifestyle, and his numerous theaters, Marshall's entourage included countless celebrities. Throwing lavish parties at his Wilmette studio/home overlooking Lake Michigan, his guest-list included the likes of silent film star Rudolph Valentino, the Ziegfeld Folly Girls, Ethel Barrymore, Houdini, Fred and Adele Astire and on.

This short film introduces America to this “maker”and "shaker" of Chicago and his architectural genius.

This documentary film on Benjamin Marshall was premiered at the 2019 Chicago Architectural Biennial. The documentary will be available in public libraries and will become a permanent part of the Benjamin Marshall Society's tools to continue supporting the rich history of Chicago.


For all questions and information call at (866) 948 5140