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This webpage reproduces a chapter of
Old Illinois Houses

John Drury

reprinted by
The University of Chicago Press
Chicago and London, 1977

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
If you find a mistake though,
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This site is not affiliated with the US Military Academy.

[image ALT: A photograph of a large two‑story brick house on a corner lot, with gabled roofs pitched at about 30° and at least three chimneys. The corner of the house is shaded by a large porch supported by brick pillars, and a second similar porch can be seen off to the right. The upper-story windows are Tudor-arched, and mostly set in pairs. It is the Adlai Stevenson House in Bloomington, Illinois.]

Adlai E. Stevenson House, Bloomington, Built 1860's.

 p61  A Vice-President Lived Here

Pointed out as one of the principal sights of Bloomington is the old Adlai Stevenson residence at 901 North McLean Street. It holds this distinction because here lived one of Bloomington's most noted citizens, Adlai Ewing Stevenson, who, besides having been Vice-President of the United States under President Cleveland, served his city, state, and nation in other capacities which made him a leading figure of his time.

It was in the spring of 1887, when Adlai Stevenson was already in the national spotlight, that he acquired the McLean Street mansion, which stands across the street from the landscaped grounds of Franklin Park. At that time it was one of the noteworthy residences of the city, having been built some twenty years earlier by a Mr. Dobson, successful businessman of the Civil War era. On all sides of it were similar imposing mansions, for this was then the principal residential area of Bloomington.

 p62  After two terms in Congress Stevenson became President Cleveland's first assistant postmaster general, and then he was elected Vice-President on the Democratic ticket in 1892. He served until 1897 and, upon retirement from that office, was appointed to the bimetallic commission by President McKinley, an assignment which took him to England, France, Italy, and Belgium.

Once again Stevenson was to be a candidate for Vice-President. This was in 1900 when he was the running mate of William Jennings Bryan on the Democratic ticket. During this political battle the Stevenson residence in Bloomington was a center of attention. It was again in the limelight eight years later when, despite his advanced age, Stevenson was an unsuccessful candidate for governor of Illinois against Charles S. Deneen. Now well along in years, the Bloomington lawyer retired from active life. In his McLean Street residence, he spent his declining years writing a book of reminiscences, Something of Men I Have Known.

He died in Chicago on June 14, 1914, at the age of seventy-nine. His wife, Letitia Green Stevenson, had died six months earlier. In many ways she was as outstanding as her husband. Daughter of the Rev. Lewis W. Green, a well-known Kentucky educator, Mrs. Stevenson, as chatelaine of the Bloomington residence, made it a social and cultural center of the city. She was for four years president general of the Daughters of the American Revolution, was closely associated with the Colonial Dames, was active in the Federation of Illinois Women's Clubs, and was interested in foreign missions.

After the deaths of Adlai Stevenson and his wife, the McLean Street house had a number of occupants, finally becoming a rooming house for students of the Illinois State Normal University and Illinois Wesleyan University.

Since its construction eighty years ago, this residence has undergone numerous changes and improvements. The present veranda is a later addition. The house is a spacious, three‑story abode of brick. It has twelve rooms. The dining room, library, parlor, and reception hall are of interest for their fine walnut trim. Looking upward in the reception hall, one observes a dome of stained glass which canopies the winding walnut stairway.

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Page updated: 7 Dec 07