In addition to the mansion in Vernon Hills where John Cuneo resided, Mr. Cuneo also leased a luxury apartment on the 23rd floor at 1500 N. Lake Shore Drive in Chicago. Records from the Cuneo family papers at the Loyola University of Chicago Archives, show that he first leased the apartment in 1950. Based on photos of the apartment from the John A Mallin archives, and from documents in the Loyola University Archives, Mallin probably decorated the dining room and another room in the apartment in the 1950s, which is also the time that he decorated the North dining room at the Cuneo mansion in Vernon Hills. A Mallin document indicates wages at the Cuneo apartment in the amount of $1,200, with no date specified.
According to the Loyola archive documents, in 1952, there was a leak in the study which damaged the ceiling. In a letter to the management company, Mr. Cuneo stated “I am somewhat concerned about the leaks in the ceiling, which are affecting the canvas in the study of my apartment on the 23rd floor. I have secured an estimate from the painters who have painted it before which I am enclosing.” However, he was more concerned about “the possible damages to the ceiling in the dining room, which is adjacent to the study, if these leaks should continue.” But went on to state that “the study has imported canvas on the ceiling, which was finished in this country, and is a very expensive canvas, and I would not want it damaged.”
In 1958, there was another large leak in the apartment, described by Mallin in a letter he sent to Mr. Cuneo on December 24, 1958. “A broken pipe has flooded the entire ceiling and part of the walls, resulting in considerable damage to the Mural Decoration, causing the canvas to soften and split apart, where the water is pouring through to the floor. We cannot guarantee what is going to happen in the future, on this Work of Art, after it has been repaired and restored to its original state.”
In a letter written by Mr. Cuneo to the management company on Dec 29, 1958, he states, “I am enclosing herewith the letter received from John A. Mallin, the artist who installed the ceiling in the dining room of my apartment at 1500 Lake Shore Drive. No doubt you are familiar with the damage to the ceiling and to the side walls. I just wondered what procedure we go through to have this repairs. I certainly feel this is strictly a liability of the building, and feel that Mr. Mallin is the proper man to repair the damage. I have asked Mr. Mallin for a cost, which he is reluctant to give. However, I have always found him to be fair in his charges.”
It is not known if the restoration ever occurred, and if any of the decorations in the dining room still exist. The Mallin photos show musical cherubs on the ceiling that are similar to those on the ceiling in the north dining room of the Vernon Hills mansion, suggesting this ceiling is in the dining room. Other photos of the apartment show Italian villa scenes on the ceiling and walls that are reminiscent of those in the Cuneo breakfast room. These decorations may be in a different room than the cherub decorations, possibly in a second dining room. Given Mr. Cuneo’s assertions in his letters, these decorations were probably done on canvas and then applied to the ceiling and walls.
It is not known when Mr. Cuneo stopped leasing the apartment. However, an inventory of the apartment contents was done in 1982. Of note, the inventory list included a pair of paintings of horses by John A. Mallin, framed in gilded wood frames (16” x 20”).
- Cuneo Family Papers 1868-2000 UA 2010.3, Box 24 Folder 1952-1959. Loyola University of Chicago Archives, Chicago.
- Cuneo Family Papers 1868-2000 UA 2010.3, Box 25 Folder 1982. Loyola University of Chicago Archives, Chicago.