1832 - 1907

William Le Baron Jenney

Considered the father of Chicago's early skyscrapers, Jenney was born in Fairhaven, Massachusetts, and trained as an architect and an engineer at Harvard and in Paris. During the 1870s, Jenney's firm of Jenney, Schermerhorn and Bogart supervised much of the implementation of Olmsted and Vaux's plan for Riverside, Illinois, contributing significantly to the physical landscape character of this early Picturesque suburb. Much of Jenney's landscape work has been superseded by that of later practitioners. Due to lack of public funding, Jenney only was able to implement portions of his 1871 plan for Chicago's Douglas, Humboldt, and Garfield Parks and boulevards. Jens Jensen later redesigned much of Jenney's extant park work. In the 1870s, Jenney and H. W. S. Cleveland were hired to work on the design of Graceland, Chicago's new rural cemetery conceived in the Picturesque tradition. Jenney brought O.C. Simonds into the project, who, working in the tradition of Olmsted and knowledgeable of Strauch's work at Spring Grove Cemetery, ultimately became Graceland's superintendent, applying his knowledge of Prairie Style planting to reinforce the site's strong regional character. Today, Simonds (not Jenney) is most closely associated with Graceland. Fortunately for Jenney, his design reputation rests primarily and firmly on his architectural opus.