Sep 21, 2014
Robert Allerton and his Boyfriend/Son
But Robert Allerton is unique. He made his boyfriend his son.
Born into luxury in 1873, son of the founder of the First National Bank of Chicago, Robert Allerton rejected the usual route of private school, Ivy League college, and tycoon career. Instead, after he graduated from prep school, he bummed around Europe, collecting art.
In 1897 he bought a farm near Urbana, Illinois, and turned it into a series of ornate gardens, stocked with neoclassical statues and Asian art.
There were some gay rumors, but in that far more heterosexist era, it was more commonly assumed that Jack was merely the protege of the older man. Besides, they often took girls to public events.
Otherwise they lived happily together for thirty years. They spent summers in Illinois, and traveled during the winters. One year they'd go "Europewise," and the next "Orientwise."
Robert and Jack were a common sight at parties, benefits, concerts, and nightclubs. Their Thanksgiving Parties were legendary.
They had a wide circle of friends, including Illinois governor Adlai Stevenson.
They endowed the Robert Allerton Park, the Allerton Gardens in Hawaii, the Honolulu Academy of Art, and the Art Institute of Chicago.
He came up with a clever solution. In 1951, when Robert was 77, he legally adopted 52-year old Jack. When he died five years later, his "son" automatically inherited everything.