Wealthy eccentrics

Sometimes the rich are a little different.

George Fabyan (1867 -1936)
George Fabyan (1867 -1936)
Fabyan made a fortune as a cloth dealer and then retired to his estate, Riverbank, in Geneva, Illinois. The house was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. There, Fabyan devoted himself to his varied interests. He became convinced, using cryptological analysis, that Francis Bacon was the author of many Shakespeare plays, and persuaded a court to rule to this effect in 1916. He spent almost two years and $75,000 transplanting a windmill to his estate. And he spent years trying to build an acoustically-operated levitation device.

But Fabyan was more than just a crank - or at least he left more of a legacy. At Riverbank he brought in world-class researchers in architectural acoustics, and it was Riverbank-trained cipher analysts who helped crack German and Mexican codes during World War I.

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