IN MEMORIAM: Richard H. Driehaus; Philanthropist and Preservationist

It is with great sadness that we share the news of the unexpected passing of Richard H. Driehaus of natural causes on March 9, 2021 at the age of 78. His brilliance for business was surpassed only by his passion for philanthropy.

He founded Driehaus Capital Management which became one of Chicago’s largest and most successful investment firms. In 1983, he created the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation and used his fortune to powerfully support historic preservation, the arts and community organizations throughout Chicago and the nation.

“Reflecting on nearly two decades in philanthropy, Richard wrote, ‘I have devoted my professional life to the field of financial management and have been blessed with remarkable success. I recognize, however, that the measure of one’s personal holdings is of less importance than the impact of our collective aspirations made real. I have further come to understand that maximizing the impact of donated dollars can be considerably more challenging than earning those dollars in the first place.

“Philanthropy enriched Richard’s life immeasurably, and he would often paraphrase Winston Churchill’s quote: ‘We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.’

“‘Richard was a dear friend, my professional mentor, and a lifelong philanthropist,’ said Anne Lazar, executive director of the Driehaus Foundation in their news release. ‘He spent decades making an impact in Chicago and his legacy will live on through his foundation. He was a true gentleman of grace and humility, and it is the foundation’s honor and privilege to continue Richard’s legacy of support.'” (Driehaus Foundation statement)

“‘Richard led a life of zest and intellectual curiosity. His path and personal story were larger than life, and the impact he made as an investor is perhaps only rivaled by the extensive legacy he left as a philanthropist,’ said Steve Weber, president and CEO of Driehaus Capital Management, in their news release. ‘Our thoughts are with his daughters Tereza, Caroline and Kate, his sisters Dorothy and Elizabeth, and his extended family. Richard will be dearly missed by all who were fortunate enough to know him.'” (Driehaus Capital Management statement)

“‘Richard’s an amazing person,’ said David Bahlman, the former president of the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois. ‘The causes he supports and the projects he has funded over the years have had a great impact on the appreciation of art and architecture in Chicago.’ (Sharoff, Chicago Magazine, 9/27/2007)

“In 2015, he received the AIA Chicago Lifetime Achievement Award to recognize his tireless support of historic preservation and sponsorship of architecture award programs and design competitions. Zurich Esposito, former AIA Chicago executive vice president, said, ‘Richard’s engagement with preservation, his recognition of working architects, and his philanthropic reach have had an immeasurable impact on the practice. His commitment to classical architectural and planning ideas, forms and principles—coupled with his willingness to support and embolden those actively working in the profession—has left a lasting legacy on the contemporary landscape.’ (Massie, Architect Magazine, 8/6/2015)

His deep commitment to Chicago’s architectural heritage lead him to purchase and beautifully restore the 1883 Samuel Mayo Nickerson Mansion which serves the Richard H. Driehaus Museum of Decorative Arts and the 1886 Richardsonian Romanesque Ransom Cable Mansion which serves as headquarters for Driehaus Capital Management.

“‘It’s my gift to the city. The museum is about protecting the past. The idea is to display the period, the materials and objects, and to organize that as a whole experience. It’s not about any one object. It’s about the environment, the space,’ said Richard Driehaus in a 2007 Chicago Magazine profile regarding the Driehaus Museum of Decorative Arts and the restoration of the Nickerson mansion. (Sharoff, Chicago Magazine, 9/27/2007)

Richard Driehaus and the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation was a longtime friend and supporter of Preservation Chicago. We are deeply grateful for his long support for our organization, our mission, and for the preservation movement in Chicago. He will be dearly missed, but his legacy will live on through all of his incredible achievements during his lifetime and through so many preservation wins yet to come.

Richard H. Driehaus, 1942-2021, Driehaus Foundation Website, March, 2021

Richard H. Driehaus, 1942-2021, Driehaus Capital Management Website, March, 2021

Richard Driehaus, American philanthropist, dies at 78; The financier created the traditional architecture award that bears his name and the Rafael Manzano award for new traditional architecture, two, Anatxu Zabalbeascoa, El Pais, 3/12/21

Richard Driehaus, Stock-Market Daredevil, Preserved Traditional Architecture; Chicago fund manager, who has died at age 78, arrived at one of his parties on an elephant’s back, James R. Hagerty, Wall Street Journal, 3/25/21

Richard H. Driehaus, Champion of Classic Architecture, Dies at 78; A Chicago investor and philanthropist, he was an apostle of historic preservation and established an annual prize to celebrate traditional design, Sam Roberts, The New York Times, 3/20/21

The sad passing of INTBAU trustee and benefactor, Richard H. Driehaus, International Network for Traditional Building Architecture & Urbanism, 3/12/21

A Classic Act; With a passion for tradition, the investment guru Richard Driehaus has become one of the city’s most dedicated advocates for historic preservation. This fall, he takes his commitment further by opening a museum of decorative arts in a phenomenally lavish 19th-century mansion on the Near North Side, Robert Sharoff, Chicago Magazine, 9/27/2007

Philanthropist Richard Driehaus Will Receive the 2015 AIA Chicago Lifetime Achievement Award; A champion of historic preservation, Driehaus sponsors architecture award programs and local design competitions, Caroline Massie, Architect Magazine, 8/6/2015

Chicago philanthropist and investment manager Richard Driehaus dies at 78, Jessica Villagomez, & Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune, 3/10/21
A legend as an investor and donor, Richard Driehaus dies at 78, Starting on the South Side, he saved, mastered the stock market, and backed causes that ranged from excellence in architecture and fashion to education and good government, David Roeder, Chicago Sun-Times, 3/10/21


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