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Bill Thayer

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Frances Willard

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.

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and I believe it to be free of errors.
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This site is not affiliated with the US Military Academy.

[image ALT: A photograph of a two‑story rectangular brick house, with a gabled roof pitched at about 40° and two chimneys; it is partly overgrown with roses or ivy. The front door is arched with a fanlight. It is the Charles Dawes House in Evanston, Illinois.]

Chicago Daily News

Charles G. Dawes House, Evanston, Built 1894.

 p145  Northwest Territory Museum

Although not so old as most of the Illinois houses discussed in this book, the Dawes residence, at 225 Greenwood Avenue, in Evanston, is nonetheless an important landmark. For not only is it the home of a former Vice-President of the United States who was an international figure in the years after World War I, but it has been dedicated to perpetual use as a museum of the old Northwest Territory — the territory out of which the states of Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan, and part of Minnesota were formed.

Designed in French Gothic style, this spacious brick mansion, under its stately old trees, has been the home of General Charles Gates Dawes for more than a third of a century. It is located just half a mile south of the tree-shaded campus of Northwestern University, and from its east windows the Dawes family can view the broad blue expanse of Lake Michigan. From the south veranda of this mansion General Dawes delivered the speech in 1924 in which he accepted the Republican nomination  p146 for Vice-President of the United States as the running mate of Calvin Coolidge.

But General Dawes was not the builder of this mansion. The honor fell to the Rev. Robert D. Sheppard, a professor at Northwestern University who, during the 1890's, served as the university's treasurer and business agent. Before going to Evanston, the Rev. Mr. Sheppard was a minister in Chicago. He was born in Chicago in 1846, the son of a pioneer lumber merchant and early school teacher of the city. It was in 1894 that Dr. Sheppard built the residence in Evanston and General Dawes acquired it in 1909.

At the time he moved into this house, General Dawes was forging ahead in business and politics. He had already served as comptroller of the currency in the administration of President McKinley and, afterwards, he established the Central Republic Bank of Chicago. Before going to Chicago, he practiced law in Lincoln, Nebraska, and while there met, and formed a lifelong friendship with Lieutenant Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.John J. Pershing, who was to become commander of American forces in World War I.

General Dawes was born at Marietta, Ohio, on August 27, 1865. His great-great-grandfather was Manasseh Cutler, who was a partner of General Rufus Putnam in the establishment of the Ohio Company, the organization which settled the Northwest Territory. Acting for the Ohio Company, composed largely of officers of the Revolutionary War, Manasseh Cutler negotiated the purchase from the Continental Congress of 1,500,000 acres of land, on which Marietta, Ohio, was founded on May 7, 1788.

With Manasseh Cutler as an ancestor, it was but natural for General Dawes to become interested in the history of the Northwest Territory early in his career. During the eventful years following, he continued to pursue his hobby of collecting material on this subject; material which he stored in his Evanston home. Here, too, he wrote numerous books and, as a pianist, composed the famous "Melody in A Major." His interest in the Northwest Territory was shared by his wife, whose great-grandfather, Paul Fearing, was the first lawyer west of the Allegheny Mountains and who was the first delegate of the Northwest Territory to the Continental Congress.

Rich in historical papers and documents, as well as pioneer furniture and exhibits connected with the career of General Dawes, the Greenwood Avenue residence has been given to Northwestern University and will become the Northwestern Historical Center. It will also shelter the Evanston Historical Society. General Dawes and his wife will continue to live in the mansion during their lifetimes.​a

Thayer's Note:

a Charles Dawes died in 1951, and Caro Dawes in 1957. The house is now the Evanston History Center.

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Page updated: 3 Dec 17