Kogen-Miller Studios

Chicago IL

Edgar Miller’s Handmade Homes/Kogen-Miller Studios
Edgar Miller Legacy
Written By Edgar Miller Legacy

Edgar Miller Legacy advances the appreciation of the life, philosophy and work of Edgar Miller.

Miller and Kogen’s second project, begun in 1928 and completed in 1932, this property is hard to miss as it juts out to the property line with a multi-story brick wall, decorated with inlaid tile and mosaic work, and has an entryway accented with an exquisite Edgar Miller carved red door.

The Studio was commissioned by a wealthy manufacturer named Rudolf Glasner. He was a member of the board of the Art Institute of Chicago and an early appreciator of the modernist movement in Europe, which Edgar Miller was busy promoting at his multiple gallery spaces in nearby Towertown, now River North.

Glasner provided much-needed funding during the beginning of the Great Depression so that the Wells Street complex is much more cohesive in form and aesthetics than the Carl Street Studios, which were done in a more hodge-podge way as money was always a dwindling resource there.

While less of an artists colony in the way Carl Street Studios was, Kogen-Miller Studios still provided a welcome meeting place for many different types of creative people interested in an inspiring place to live.

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Activism at the Kogen-Miller Studios

While less of an artists commune than the Carl Street Studios, starting in the late 1960s through the 1970s, the Kogen-Miller Studios became home to one of Chicago's most notorious and fearless activists. Lucy Montgomery, born in 1910 in Georgia, married a wealthy heir to the Post fortune. Having been very active in volunteering her time and money to civil rights organizations as early as the 1950s, by the 1960s she was well into her middle age and "settled down" by purchasing the entire complex at 1734 North Wells Street. She was known for hosting numerous parties and salons in her ornately designed Edgar Miller apartment, and for offering safe housing to many activists of that time who were in need of a place to escape from the often racist and anti-hippie Chicago authorities of the time.

Watching the Front Door

Lucy Montgomery also was very close to many members of the Black Panther Party, a radical black rights group that was controversial for brandishing weapons to protect their neighborhoods from police brutality and other white supremacist lynch mobs. For this reason, Lucy's front door was closely watched by the authorities to keep tabs on the comings and goings of those they felt were disrupting the order of things in that era's much more racially segregated Chicago.

Did you know...One of Lucy's closest friends was historian, author and radio personality Studs Turkel.

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