Wednesday February 20 12:07 pm

Spotlighting events along the south shore of Lake Michigan

A Lot of History in "Burnham's Dream: The White City"


The way the story was presented, Daniel Burnham (Paul Proczko) had a vision for the World’s Fair. Although there was a committee of distinguished businessmen and politicians choosing the architects, he was bound and determined to build it, forcing all those architects to fit into his vision – and his schematics.

Although his mentor and partner, John Root (Sam Massey) had reservations about doing the project – they had plenty of other commissions, after all – he agreed since Burnham wanted it so much. Louis Sullivan (Daniel Leahy), another successful architect of the day, was his main competition.

Burnham’s wife, Margaret (Laura Degrenia), was supportive, but annoyed that her husband insisted they live in the country – Evanston – rather than in the city where he could actually spend time with her and the children.

Once he got the job, Burnham had to deal with competing groups who wanted to be a part of the Fair. Bertha Palmer (Genevieve Thiers), the acknowledged ‘queen’ of the city, demanded – and got – a women’s building. When Ida B. Wells (Arielle Leverett) demanded inclusion for African-Americans, she wasn’t as lucky.

Faced with an impossible deadline, Burnham came up with a creative solution. He had the dedication during the specified year but had the actual opening the following year. He also introduced the committee to a giant wheel with gondola cars invented by a man named Ferris.

Lost and Found Productions’ “Burnham’s Dream: The White City” ran through July 1st at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago.