Diamonds are for the 100th anniversary. Dahlias are in honor of the prize-winning flower Elsa Armour grew on this gentleman’s farm when it was built in 1917.
Together, the “Diamonds & Dahlias” cocktail and dinner party on September 9 serves to culminate a year of centennial events and to celebrate the preservation of a Lake Forest legacy.
“Elawa Farm is an important historical landmark in Lake Forest,” says Madeleine “Maddie” Dugan, a fourth-generation Lake Forester and member of the Elawa Farm Foundation board whose family also owned a gentleman’s farm right across the road. “I serve on the board to help preserve the last remnants of a classic gentleman’s farm.”
Elawa Farm (which originates from the acronym ELAWA) is a historic landmark designed for the Armour family by renowned architects David Adler and Alfred Hopkins. Using a composite of initials from Elsa and A. Watson Armour and 1954 owners Lelia and Wallaca Carroll (renamed the LeWa Farm at one time) the farm group was acquired by the City of Lake Forest in 1998.
The event itself is aptly named, given the farm’s storied history. In fact, dahlias and other flowers from the Elawa gardens will adorn the tables for the evening in soft pink, green, and ivory in keeping with the elegant gentleman’s farm-era theme. Dinner, catered by George Jewel, will also represent the farm in many ways, with apple and sage brined pork rib chop, Elawa Farm mashed sweet potatoes, cherry smoked bacon braised collard greens, salsify and radish salad, Elawa Farm Honey thyme reduction, and grilled apple garnish.
The evening will begin as guests stroll the farm and garden during cocktails as classical music by a string quartet floats across the fields and native prairies. An exhibit by the Lake Forest and Lake Bluff Historical Society along with a slideshow of old Armour family photographs and their life at Elawa will add to the educational and historical significance of the evening.
Board President Dianne FitzSimons will welcome guests as they enjoy the first course of dinner followed by a surprise performer. Later, a paddle fundraiser will benefit the continued restoration of the farm and garden.
“I enjoy being a part of Elawa Farm because it is an important city-owned asset and a valuable community resource and unique treasure,” says FitzSimons. “I love the connection to the past—the Armours were a prominent Chicago family of business tycoons who helped shape Chicago. It is worth working hard to make sure it is here for many years to come—maybe another one hundred.”
Joanne C. Miller, executive director of Elawa Farm Foundation, echoes those sentiments.
“Elawa is such a gem, and we are very lucky to have it,” Miller says. “It offers a lot of different things to different people, from teaching organic growing to cooking from the garden. It’s a peaceful place to sit and ponder or to walk into the garden and enjoy the bounty of what the garden provides.”
The Elawa property of today is the result of a public private partnership that ensures the buildings forming the main farm group are not only preserved, but adaptively reused—offering programs and classes for the community.
Attendance for Diamonds & Dahlias is limited with individual tickets starting at $250 and sponsor tables available. FEAST, Elawa’s hugely popular annual farm-to-table event celebrating the fall harvest, will return in the fall of 2018.
For more information, visit elawafarm.org.