Initially I was more interested in the Brentano’s envelope and had no idea who Mrs. Avery Coonley was. After a little research I believe this may have been Queene Ferry Coonley, 1874-1958, born Addie Elizabeth Ferry.
Among her list of achievements and activities Queene was a graduate of Vassar, a suffragist, a philanthropist, an advocate for progressive education, and in 1906 founded a school in Riverside, IL. In 1912 she founded what would become The Avery Coonley School in Downers Grove, IL which is still in operation. She commissioned works by Frank Lloyd Wright and helped get him out of financial ruin in later years. And in 1954 she published a book with Charlotte Krum titled, Great Thoughts: An Anthology of Sayings, Garnered Over the Years.
Born in Detroit, Queene lived for a time in Illinois until moving to Washington D.C. in 1912 after her husband’s death. You can read a bit more about her here.
It’s a curious thing that I found Queene’s card in a Connecticut bookstore when we both have a connection to Riverside, Illinois. The church I grew up attending was in Riverside and as an adult I lived in an apartment overlooking that church. The first house I owned was in Brookfield, IL, the next town over. I’ve learned in my research that Brookfield asked Queene to fund their kindergarten and she did so in a big way: she bought the land, commissioned William E. Drummond to build the school, and underwrote the tuition fees.
|Queene in 1950 [source; click to view images of the Coonley residence by Wright]|
Riverside is a beautiful town. It was designed by Frederick Law Olmstead in the 1860s and is one of the first planned communities in the U.S. If you’re interested, click here see my post on the beautiful Riverside Public Library.
I plan on doing more research on this fascinating woman. I’d love to find out how a girl who was given the name Addie Elizabeth at birth ended up going by the name Queene.