In his autobiography, My Road to Rotary, Rotary’s founder Paul Harris recalled:
“One winter day I was walking on Longwood Drive in a suburban district in Chicago. The drive skirts a hill spoken of as ‘the ridge,’ which extends for several miles in a southwesterly direction, an unusual feature in Chicago as most of the lies on flat ground. The houses on the west side of the drive are built on the crest of the hill that parallels it.
On that particular day the hill was covered with snow and many of the youngsters were coasting without regard to the property rights involved. No property owner, however, seemed disposed to question the rights of the youngsters to make common ground of their hillside lawns.
The picture seemed so true to the New England life I had known and loved that the thought came to me if ever I was to have a home of my own, it would be on the top of the hill on Longwood Drive. The time came sooner than I expected … I married my bonnie Jean in 1910, and two years later acquired a home on the hill. We named our home ‘Comely Bank’ after the street in Edinburgh where she spent the days of her childhood and youth….”
Paul and Jean Harris lived in the residence for 35 years, from 1912 until 1947. Paul Harris passed away in the home on 27 January 1947. Later that year, Jean sold the property. She returned to her native Scotland in 1955.
The house was built circa 1905. The Harris’s purchased the property in the fall of 1911 and moved in soon thereafter. There were two private owners after the Harris’s. The Paul and Jean Harris Home Foundation bought the property in 2005.