The Mural and Screen
A large oil portrait of Grandfather Gray at Island Lake hangs just inside the entryway. Nebraskan Lawton Parker painted it on canvas in the early 1890s. After Parker won a drawing contest in the Presbyterian weekly The Interior, Dr. Gray brought him to Chicago, where his studies at the Art Institute were supported by his benefactor. Eventually, Parker also studied in Paris, and made a name for himself as an Impressionist painter. According to family history, this painting was displayed at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. Purcell inherited it upon Dr. Gray's death, and in 1913 installed it here, mural-like, with wood elements framing it into the wall. It was the first of a series of artworks Purcell planned for the house; those to follow had to fit within his $100-to-$150 budget.
Straight ahead is a screen constructed of vertical wood members that separates the stairway, which leads to the private areas, from the main living space. Its airiness is Japanese in character. next stop >