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Charles Gates
Dawes House

225 Greenwood St., Evanston
Henry Edwards-Ficken, architect, 1894

 

Significance: This 1894 French Chateaux-style mansion was the home of Charles Gates Dawes, Vice President of the United States under Calvin Coolidge. It is considered to have one of the most intact 19th century interiors in the Chicagoland area, featuring original furniture, Tiffany lamps, carved mantels, paneled cherry-wood walls and finely

 
 

articulated plaster-coffered ceilings. In 1942, General Dawes gave his house to Northwestern University, while stipulating that he and his wife would live in the home until their deaths. The house then was to be used as a museum or to be open to the public to highlight local history in some capacity. Northwestern took full possession of the property in 1957 after General Dawes’ wife passed away. In 1960 the Evanston History Society moved in as a tenant.

 

Current Condition and/or Status: On April 16, the Dawes House was closed to the public by Northwestern, citing safety violations found by the Evanston Fire Chief and stating the museum’s lease would not be renewed. Northwestern recently extended the museum’s lease until June 30, 2009 and the city has said the lower floors could reopen to the public this fall pending safety improvements. The university has stated an additional $4 million in repairs is needed before the home can fully re-open but has not stated what its intentions for the property are after next June.

Potential Threat: The Dawes Mansion is an Evanston Landmark and a National Historic Landmark. However, neither designation protects the interior which may be at risk if the building is adapted for non-museum uses.

What You Can Do: Contact Northwestern University regarding the importance of the building to Evanston and as a National Historic Landmark. Urge the city to pursue landmark designation of the interior and urge the university to implement a plan for the building that will be sensitive to its historic integrity.

  • President Henry Bienen, Northwestern University. Northwestern University, Rebecca Crown Center, 633 Clark St., Evanston, IL 60208-1106. hsbienen@northwestern.edu

Other Contacts: A local preservation campaign effort is under way; see www.generaldawesreturns.org . For information on the house go to www.evanstonhistorical.org

 

Photos: 1 Dawes House, exterior; 2 Charles Gates Dawes c. 1930; 3-5 interior rooms; all photos courtesy of Evanston History Center

 

 

 

 

 

 

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