Gazette Article by: Bean Carroll
Appeared in the Gazette: Fall 2001
Ann Hibbard Burnham Smith, born in her family’s log house on July 14, 1920, died August 27th in Exeter, New Hampshire. She was the last resident of the oldest standing structure in Cook County, the Schmidt-Burnham Log House.
Mrs. Smith was the youngest of four children born to Anita Willets-Burnham and Alfred Newton Burnham. Her mother was an artist and Mrs. Smith followed in her footsteps. Her early artistic talents were revealed through her sketches in the book, Round the World on a Penny, which tells the tales of the family’s two trips to Europe and beyond. The first sketch published is a self-portrait, aged two.
She attended Wellsley College and graduated from The Art Institute of Chicago. For a short period of time she was a professional singer in New York. She married Harry Lee Smith and they eventually moved to New Canaan, Connecticut. The couple had three daughters: Carol Dearborn, Susan Varn and Jane Bernhardt.
Mrs. Smith was a gifted art therapist, art teacher and artist. Though long-time residents of New Canaan, Connecticut, the Smith family spent summers in Winnetka. They have many fond memories of the log house. Mrs. Smith returned to live in the log house over ten years ago to care for her older sister, Carol-Lou Burnham. She moved east in July to be closer to her daughters and grandchildren.
Mrs. Smith’s home, which was originally sited in an apple orchard at Indian Hill and purchased in 1917 for $25 by her parents, will pass to the Winnetka Historical Society. The Historical Society is planning to relocate the house to Crow Island Woods. There it will replicate the buildings of the original era and include an exhibit on the Burnham family.