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Alice Judson Ryerson Hayes

1922 – October 13, 2006

Inducted in 2015

I am grateful to the house itself for its smell and taste and texture and for the views out of its windows and for its nurturing spirit.

Alice Judson Hayes was born into a prominent Chicago arts family, and in 1976 carried on its distinguished record of patronage in founding the Ragdale artists colony. She was raised in Lincoln Park by her lawyer father and sculptor mother, and attended the Francis Parker School. As a student at the University of Chicago, Hayes met her first husband, Ned Ryerson, son of the steel magnate Edward L. Ryerson, and subsequently moved to begin a new life on the East Coast. It was after her divorce from Ryerson that Hayes returned to the Chicago area and created the Ragdale Foundation, set up as a working retreat for writers, musicians and visual artists. Built on her family’s Green Bay Road estate in Lake Forest, the retreat was designed by her grandfather, Chicago architect Howard Van Doren Shaw. A large number of artists have passed through Ragdale (up to 200 per year), including prominent (or soon to be) writers Audrey Niffenegger, Lisel Mueller, Dennis Lehane, Alice Sebold, Mark Strand, Luis Alberto Urrea, Jane Hamilton, Jacquelyn Mitchard and Alex Kotlowitz, who worked for four weeks on his 1991 classic There Are No Children Here. As its director, Hayes labored on every aspect of the burgeoning community, from high-level decision making to mowing the lawn. In 1981, Hayes remarried and moved to Hyde Park, becoming active in peace and anti-war activities, and a vital part of community organizations, as she continued to be in Lake Forest. Among her civic achievements, Hayes helped found the Chicago chapter of Educators for Social Responsibility. Ten years after their marriage, Hayes and her husband moved into Montgomery Place, also in Hyde Park, where she taught poetry, edited a monthly newsletter, and helped author a history of the establishment called In It Together. Hayes’ published work includes the poetry collections Journal of the Lake and Water, Sheba's Story, as well as a number of short stories. In 2002, Hayes received the Studs Terkel Humanities Service Award, which the Illinois Humanities Council awards for exceptional contributions to the community. The Alice Judson Hayes Writing Fellowship is given out annually in her honor.

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