An Open Secret

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In 1922, Robert Allerton - described by the Chicago Tribune as the 'richest bachelor in Chicago' - met a twenty-two-year-old University of Illinois architecture student named John Gregg, who was twenty-six years his junior. From then on, they were virtually inseparable. Gregg moved into Allerton's palatial country home, and the pair eventually bought a plot of land in Hawai'i, where they built a home and designed a garden paradise that is now part of the National Tropical Botanical Garden. 'An Open Secret' tells the striking story of these two iconoclasts, locating them among their queer contemporaries and exploring why becoming father and son made a surprising kind of sense for a twentieth-century couple who had every monetary advantage but one glaring problem: they wanted to be together publicly in a society that did not tolerate their love.