Evanston History Center

Evanston History Center The mission of the Evanston History Center is to collect, preserve and interpret the history of the C
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You can reach EHC staff by calling (847) 475-3410 during business hours, Tuesday-Friday 9 am - 4 pm.

 , 1895. "Hello Central!" Shopping for Sunday Dinner.
01/05/2024

, 1895. "Hello Central!" Shopping for Sunday Dinner.

 : Here's wishing everyone a happy start to 2024! (And in the future, may all your sidewalks be as nicely shoveled as th...
01/02/2024

: Here's wishing everyone a happy start to 2024! (And in the future, may all your sidewalks be as nicely shoveled as this one.) Pictured: after a snowstorm, Davis St., 1918. Outside the Hoyburn Building, 615 Davis Street, between Chicago and Orrington. The building was home to the Hoyburn Theatre (1914-1927), advertised as "A Motion Picture Theatre of the Best Class."

Postwar  : In 1946, Mayor S. G. Ingraham, appointed a committee to “study Evanston’s traffic problem with an eye to solv...
12/29/2023

Postwar : In 1946, Mayor S. G. Ingraham, appointed a committee to “study Evanston’s traffic problem with an eye to solving the acute shortage of parking space.” The city’s “parking troubles,” they said, presented “a barrier to further business development.” In 1947, city officials first proposed the use of parking meters in order to raise revenue to acquire property for off street parking lots. By 1948, 750 coin meters had been installed to “lick the suburb’s growing parking problem.” Over the next decade, the city purchased properties all over Evanston, tore them down, and created numerous parking lots. These houses, at 1614 and 1616 Maple Ave., were just two of the many properties purchased and torn down to make way for parking lots. The houses, which were located across the street from the Davis St. station, were razed in 1956.

 ! We are happy to announce that beginning in January 2024, all events in EHC's public lecture series will be free to al...
12/27/2023

! We are happy to announce that beginning in January 2024, all events in EHC's public lecture series will be free to all! See the line up of programs and RSVP here: https://evanstonhistorycenter.org/series/upcoming-events/
Pictured: Pamela Bannos discusses her research on photographer Vivian Maier at the Evanston History Center.

 . View of Davis St. looking west, 1940s. Photograph by Richard Tasker Lowndes III (1897-1964). Lowndes took this and ot...
12/22/2023

. View of Davis St. looking west, 1940s. Photograph by Richard Tasker Lowndes III (1897-1964). Lowndes took this and other photographs from his apartment in the North Shore Hotel on Ave. , everyone!

 , photographer Charles E. Smith operated a studio in Evanston from 1888 until his death in 1920. Originally from New Yo...
12/21/2023

, photographer Charles E. Smith operated a studio in Evanston from 1888 until his death in 1920. Originally from New York, Smith and his wife Frances lived for many years in Peoria, Illinois, where he operated a photography studio. They moved to Evanston where they lived at 1810 Chicago Ave. Over the course of his career, Smith enjoyed a kind of fame in the city and when notable visitors arrived in Evanston, they often went to Smith's studio. In 1897, for example, the founder of the American Red Cross, Clara Barton, sat for her portrait at his studio. Advertisement, Evanston News-Index, December 1901.

 ! We are gearing up for another great season of events and presentations at the Evanston History Center in 2024. First ...
12/14/2023

! We are gearing up for another great season of events and presentations at the Evanston History Center in 2024. First up: a presentation and panel discussion honoring the work and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr: "Realizing MLK’s Dream on the North Shore: The Past, Present and Future of Fair Housing." The in-person event takes place on Thursday, January 11, 2024, 12:00 PM – 1:30 PM at the Evanston History Center. The event is co-Sponsored by Open Communities, an Evanston-based civil rights organization working to eradicate housing discrimination and unjust practices that perpetuate segregation and inequity.

Speakers include:

• Robin Rue Simmons, Founder & Executive Director of FirstRepair and Former City of Evanston 5th Ward Alderman.
• Sue Loellbach, Director of Advocacy for Evanston’s Connections for the Homeless.
• Cheryl Lawrence, Chief Executive Officer, Open Communities.
• Dominic Voz, Director of Fair Housing, Open Communities.
• Vanessa A. Johnson-McCoy, Open Communities, Fair Housing AmeriCorps VISTA.

The event is free and open to all.
Seating is limited. RSVP required: https://evanstonhistorycenter.org/event/realizing-mlks-dream/

It is through our community’s generosity that the Evanston History Center can offer these free programs! Please consider donating $10 when you RSVP to support our ongoing free public programming.

 , Sherman Ave at Church St. after a snowstorm, 1955. Pictured is Kresge’s 5 and 10. In 1924, Kresge’s first “notion sto...
12/13/2023

, Sherman Ave at Church St. after a snowstorm, 1955. Pictured is Kresge’s 5 and 10. In 1924, Kresge’s first “notion store” opened at 826 Davis Street. Another larger store, pictured here at 1630 Sherman (now Northwestern Medicine), opened later. In 1977, Kresge’s Evanston store closed and that same year the S. S. Kresge Corporation changed its name to the Kmart Corporation.

 : Happy December, everyone! Make this holiday historic by giving a gift that is always the right size: an annual member...
12/01/2023

: Happy December, everyone! Make this holiday historic by giving a gift that is always the right size: an annual membership to the Evanston History Center! Learn more about the benefits of membership and purchase a gift membership here: https://bit.ly/EHCgift

 , 1926. Two years after Evanston Township High School’s new facility at 1600 Dodge Ave opened, the Evanston Review publ...
11/27/2023

, 1926. Two years after Evanston Township High School’s new facility at 1600 Dodge Ave opened, the Evanston Review published a 3-part series focused on the operations of the school’s cafeteria (pictured here, 1925). Each school day, 1500 students were served lunch in the “well lighted and well ventilated” cafeteria. Director of the cafeteria, Nelle M. Harstock was trained in the home economics departments at the University of Illinois and Columbia University. A total of 20 female employees worked in the cafeteria from 8 am to 4 pm to prepare and serve food and clean up afterwards. During lunch service (11:45 am to 1:15 pm) students lined up with their trays at the food counters; silver and napkins, along with two water coolers and glasses, were available at the end of the lines. A five cent lunch included a menu of cocoa, soup and two crackers, milk, mashed potato and gravy, frankfurters, ice cream, vegetables, macaroni and spaghetti, pie, cake, and other desserts. The most popular menu item was potatoes in all forms from mashed potatoes and potato chips to potato salad. Students were also employed in the cafeteria to “cut ice cream,” poor cocoa, iced tea and other drinks, make change, and run the candy counter. This first cafeteria was temporary; a new "modern" cafeteria building opened in 1929.

 , Have a seat in the parlor of the Avenue House hotel (pictured here) while you await your meal! Oyster soup, queen fri...
11/22/2023

, Have a seat in the parlor of the Avenue House hotel (pictured here) while you await your meal! Oyster soup, queen fritters with maple syrup, and figs, grapes, and oranges for dessert! These were just a few of the menu items on the Avenue House hotel's Thanksgiving menu in 1875. The Avenue House hotel was located on Chicago Ave and Davis St. For many years and under various managements the hotel served as a central hub for visitors and long term residents. It was razed in 1916 to make way for the North Shore hotel. (Now The Merion, a senior housing community.) Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

First Lady Rosalynn Carter pictured here (second from right) as she talks with staff at the Orrington Hotel during a vis...
11/20/2023

First Lady Rosalynn Carter pictured here (second from right) as she talks with staff at the Orrington Hotel during a visit to in June 1993. Carter stayed at the hotel while she was in the city to attend the graduation of her grandson, Jason Carter, a student at Evanston Township High School ( .) In 1981, Jack Carter, Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter’s son, had moved to Evanston with his wife, Judy, and their three children, first renting a house in southeast Evanston and later living at 847 Judson Ave. President Carter and First Lady Rosalynn Carter made several visits to Evanston to visit family in the 1980s and 1990s, often surprising residents who spotted them (and their secret service agents) around town. The Carters were back in the city for their granddaughter Sarah’s ETHS graduation in 1996. RIP, First Lady Rosalynn Carter.

 , 1930s. Main Street business district, portion of the 700 Block. C.M. Kroger, Furrier, was open at 710 Main St. and Kl...
11/16/2023

, 1930s. Main Street business district, portion of the 700 Block. C.M. Kroger, Furrier, was open at 710 Main St. and Klassen’s Market at 714 Main had recently opened in 1931. That storefront had long been a grocery store, beginning with the market opened by Lewis Peterson in the late 1890s. (This section of Main Street is now home to Evanston Eye Wellness, Masterpiece Framing, and Reprise Coffee.)

 ! Join us Thursday, November 30 from 4 to 7pm for a holiday tasting of wine, spirits and beer from around the world! We...
11/15/2023

! Join us Thursday, November 30 from 4 to 7pm for a holiday tasting of wine, spirits and beer from around the world! We're partnering with Binny’s of Evanston to host this special event at the Dawes House. The National Landmark site will be beautifully decorated for the holidays.
Sketchbook Brewery will offer seasonal beers and small bites will be provided. Jazz Piano by Ben Lewis will accompany the party! And the EHC Gift Shop will be open for your holiday shopping!
Tickets are $50 for 1 ticket, $35 per each additional ticket.
To purchase tickets, please visit: https://evanstonhistorycenter.org/event/holiday-wines-spirits-and-more/ or call 847-475-3410
Guests must be 21 years or older.

 . A great big thank you to everyone who came out to the 125th Anniversary Open House yesterday! It was a fun and festiv...
11/13/2023

. A great big thank you to everyone who came out to the 125th Anniversary Open House yesterday! It was a fun and festive event - great to see so many friends, make new friends, and feel the Dawes House so alive with all of the guests and the music, thanks to Jane Driscoll's wonderful piano playing! Thank you all for your support and friendship. Here's to the next 125! And see you at the house again soon! Pictured: the Dawes House today, November 13, 2023.

  (observed): EHC honors all veterans on this day. Veterans Day, once known as Armistice Day, originally commemorated th...
11/10/2023

(observed): EHC honors all veterans on this day. Veterans Day, once known as Armistice Day, originally commemorated the end of World War I. “The greatest struggle of humanity ended to-day with the signing of the armistice by the Germans. Colonel Robert Bacon called me by telephone at eight in the morning saying it was signed at 5 A.M.” So wrote Charles Gates Dawes, stationed in Paris, in his journal on the day that would be known for many years as “Armistice Day.”

Thousands of miles away in Chicago, a call from the Associated Press came in to the office of the Chicago Daily Tribune at 1:55 AM with the simple announcement “Armistice Signed.” After verifying the report (especially important in light of past false announcements) the Tribune “set off its giant sirens and within a few minutes the sleeping town was astir.” Ten minutes later people poured into the streets, and around the area, including in , impromptu celebrations and merriment broke out. Thirty minutes after the call came in, the Tribune published a “Peace extra,” with scores of newsboys dispatched out into the streets, selling the historic papers. Taxicabs and other cars jammed the streets and fireboats began to sound their sirens. “Delirious mobs” carrying flags and streamers and sounding horns and cowbells soon were everywhere. “Parade after parade was quickly swinging up and down” the city streets. “Kissing,” according to the Tribune, became “promiscuous,” and men and women ran out of their houses and apartments in “dishabille." Some men “dashed into the streets with pajamas showing like pantellettes beneath their hastily donned trousers.”
Trains leaving Chicago “roared through the countryside with whistles shrieking the news to suburban towns and outlying villages.” Evanston citizens celebrated (the city boasted 3,000 residents in the service), but like so many others around the world, they also mourned those who had lost their lives. “[A]n elemental convulsion of humanity has occurred,” Dawes wrote of the war, “so profound in its effects upon life on the earth that it will be studied and described for thousands of years.”

 : Tomorrow! Join us on Thursday, Nov. 9 at 7pm for a presentation by EHC's own Kris Hartzell! Kris will provide a behin...
11/08/2023

: Tomorrow! Join us on Thursday, Nov. 9 at 7pm for a presentation by EHC's own Kris Hartzell! Kris will provide a behind-the-scenes look at the recent preservation projects that have been completed at the National Historic Landmark Charles Gates Dawes House, HQ of the Evanston History Center. She will also provide a look at future plans for restoration. The event takes place at the Evanston History Center, 225 Greenwood St., Evanston, IL, 60201 Registration is required. Admission: $10. EHC members Free. For more info and to purchase tickets please visit:
https://bit.ly/EHCPoeminBrick

 : In observance of Veterans Day, Friday, November 10, the Evanston History Center will offer free docent-led tours of t...
11/08/2023

: In observance of Veterans Day, Friday, November 10, the Evanston History Center will offer free docent-led tours of the Dawes House to all veterans and their families. Come by and see the former home of U.S. Vice President and WWI veteran, Charles Gates Dawes! Tours start at 1pm, 2pm, and 3pm. Reservations are not required.

Pictured, back row, left is Joseph Antoine Willmett (Ouilmette)(1808-1897), his son Charles Archie Dean Willmett (1873-1...
11/06/2023

Pictured, back row, left is Joseph Antoine Willmett (Ouilmette)(1808-1897), his son Charles Archie Dean Willmett (1873-1953)(right) and grandchildren. Joseph was one of Antoine and Archange Ouilmette’s nine children. Joseph lived for many years on the “Ouilmette Reserve,” 1280 acres of land (in what is today Wilmette and ) created by the U.S. government for his mother, Archange Ouilmette, a Potawatomi woman, through the signing of the 1829 Treaty of the Prairie Du Chien - one of 12 major treaties that forced Potawatomi people and other tribal members to relinquish most of their land in the southern Great Lakes to the United States. Joseph, his mother, and siblings lived on the reserve into the late 1830s. The Ouilmette reserve was bounded by today’s 15th Street, and Elmwood Avenue, in Wilmette, and Central Street in Evanston. In creating the reserve, the U.S. government specified that the land could not be sold without the government’s permission. The land was eventually sold by the Ouilmette children after a later treaty ordered the removal of all Native people from Illinois. In 2022, Wilmette dedicated a new plaque to the Ouilmette family, with Sharon Hoogstraten, a seventh-generation descendant of Ouilmette in attendance. (Photo: Ancestry.com)

 : Next week! Join us on Thursday, Nov. 9 at 7pm for a presentation by EHC's own Kris Hartzell! Kris will provide a behi...
11/03/2023

: Next week! Join us on Thursday, Nov. 9 at 7pm for a presentation by EHC's own Kris Hartzell! Kris will provide a behind-the-scenes look at the recent preservation projects that have been completed at the National Historic Landmark Charles Gates Dawes House, HQ of the Evanston History Center. She will also provide a look at future plans for restoration. The event takes place at the Evanston History Center, 225 Greenwood St., Evanston, IL, 60201
Registration is required. Admission: $10. EHC members Free. For more info and to purchase tickets please visit:
https://bit.ly/EHCPoeminBrick

Join Kris Hartzell for a behind-the-scenes look at the latest preservation projects at the Evanston History Center.

 , c. 1900. This may not exactly be a   photograph, but somehow this image evokes a kind of mysterious spirit! The view ...
10/27/2023

, c. 1900. This may not exactly be a photograph, but somehow this image evokes a kind of mysterious spirit! The view is looking west on Dempster St. from Asbury Ave. The smokestacks visible in the distance are part of the Mark Manufacturing factory, established by Clayton Mark and sons in 1900 and once located at 1900 Dempster St. More than 1,000 people worked at the factory which manufactured wrought-iron pipe. The former site of the factory, which closed in the 1980s, is now the Evanston Plaza shopping center.

 . A great big thank you to Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors for his fantastic presentation yesterday, "Postcards to Lady Alice."...
10/25/2023

. A great big thank you to Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors for his fantastic presentation yesterday, "Postcards to Lady Alice." We had a full house and I think everyone can agree we were all simply mesmerized by Dr. Nabor's talk. It was spectacular! Thanks to all who attended! We look forward to seeing everyone at another Evanston History Center event soon! https://evanstonhistorycenter.org/events-and-programs/

 : 1980: pictured is the Colorado Company restaurant, 817 University Place. In designing the restaurant, the owner wante...
10/23/2023

: 1980: pictured is the Colorado Company restaurant, 817 University Place. In designing the restaurant, the owner wanted to create the look of a “19th century Western logging cabin” (hence the lining of the building’s exterior with cedar). Before that new restaurant opened, the “Big Pickle” restaurant, a favorite with students, operated on the site for many years. And in fact, numerous businesses operated on that little plot of land that lies at the intersection of University Place and Elgin Rd. from a fireproof warehouse (constructed 1907) to the Chicago Tent & Awning Co. (1920s). In 1960, a new structure was built on the site which would be devoted exclusively to the restaurant business for half a century after Campus Den Pizzeria opened. The Big Pickle, Coyote Joe Grill, and finally, Las Palmas Mexican restaurant (& Carmen’s) enjoyed long runs there. While plans for a new restaurant on the site were bandied about in 2018, they never materialized. And the old structure was razed.

 : Join us at the Evanston History Center tomorrow, Tues. Oct. 24 at 1pm for a free presentation by the Reverend Dr. Mic...
10/23/2023

: Join us at the Evanston History Center tomorrow, Tues. Oct. 24 at 1pm for a free presentation by the Reverend Dr. Michael C. R. Nabors, Pastor, Second Baptist Church in Evanston. Pastor Nabors will discuss his family history that centers around the life of his great grandmother, Alice Ampey Jones Easton Scruggs- affectionately called “Lady Alice” – and a group of postcards she received and collected from about 1902 to 1910. The postcards offer a remarkable glimpse into one Black family’s life and experiences.

This presentation is a snapshot of eight years of Lady Alice’s life, though she would spend 67 years of her life in Evanston. The postcards depict a much larger view of Black life beyond Evanston and Chicago. In fact, details show that Lady Alice had both knowledge and networking around the world.

This event is free and open to all! Registration is required. Doors open at 12:30pm. More info and register: https://evanstonhistorycenter.org/event/postcards-to-lady-alice-628-church-street-evanston/

 , 1895, looking north, Sheridan Road is on the left. Pictured is Hatfield House. Built in 1890, Hatfield House was a me...
10/17/2023

, 1895, looking north, Sheridan Road is on the left. Pictured is Hatfield House. Built in 1890, Hatfield House was a men’s dormitory. It was located on the “north campus” of Northwestern University. In 1908, Northwestern adopted a policy requiring all male students “who could afford it and were not living in their own homes or with relatives to reside in Hatfield house.” Visible in the background on the right is the Dearborn Astronomical Observatory, constructed in 1888.

 . What an amazing evening it was! Rachel Jamison Webster's presentation, "Benjamin Banneker and Us," at the Evanston Hi...
10/13/2023

. What an amazing evening it was! Rachel Jamison Webster's presentation, "Benjamin Banneker and Us," at the Evanston History Center last night was thought-provoking, moving, and quite simply brilliant. Thanks to Rachel for sharing her important work and thanks to Nina Barrett of Bookends & Beginnings for making the book signing possible. Thanks also to all who attended. It was a really special evening!

 , on the lakefront, 1909. "No fires on this beach."
10/09/2023

, on the lakefront, 1909. "No fires on this beach."

Next week! Join us on Oct. 12 at 7pm at the   History Center for a presentation by Rachel Jamison Webster, professor of ...
10/05/2023

Next week! Join us on Oct. 12 at 7pm at the History Center for a presentation by Rachel Jamison Webster, professor of creative writing at University. Webster will discuss her book, Benjamin Banneker and Us: Eleven Generations of an American Family. A book signing will take place after the presentation. Copies of Benjamin Banneker and Us will be available for sale. Many Thanks to Bookends & Beginnings for making the signing possible!

Admission: $10. EHC members Free. Registration is required.For more info and to purchase tickets please visit:
https://bit.ly/EHCBenjaminBannekerandUS

About the book:

In 1791, Thomas Jefferson hired a Black man to help survey Washington, DC. That man was Benjamin Banneker, a mathematician, a writer of almanacs, and one of the greatest astronomers of his generation. Banneker then wrote what would become a famous letter to Jefferson, imploring the new president to examine his hypocrisy, as someone who claimed to love liberty yet was an enslaver. More than two centuries later, Rachel Jamison Webster, an ostensibly white woman, learns that this groundbreaking Black forefather is also her distant relative.
In Benjamin Banneker and Us, Webster acts as a storyteller, drawing on oral history and conversations with her DNA cousins to imagine the lives of their shared ancestors across eleven generations, among them Banneker’s grandparents, an in*******al couple who broke the law to marry when America was still a conglomerate of colonies under British rule. Webster’s book sheds light on the legal construction of race and her work highlights the brilliance and resistance of early African Americans in the face of increasingly unjust laws, some of which are still in effect in the present day.
The event takes place at the Evanston History Center, 225 Greenwood St., Evanston, IL, 60201

 : Happy 150th to the Evanston Public Library! Over its many decades of existence, the Evanston Public Library has had s...
10/03/2023

: Happy 150th to the Evanston Public Library! Over its many decades of existence, the Evanston Public Library has had several homes and branches. For many years it was housed on the 2nd floor of the City Hall Building in Fountain Square. In 1908, it moved into a newly-constructed building at Orrington and Church. The city received a $50,000 gift from Andrew Carnegie to build the library. The Carnegie library was demolished in April 1960 and a new library built. It opened in September 1961. Three decades later, that library was demolished. The third and current library opened in 1994. Other branches also operated over the years, including a "South Branch" library at 926 Chicago which opened in 1917.

 , pictured is Dempster Street, just west of Asbury, looking north, 1967. The 2-story brick building is 1311 Dempster. F...
09/28/2023

, pictured is Dempster Street, just west of Asbury, looking north, 1967. The 2-story brick building is 1311 Dempster. For many years in the late 19th/early 20th centuries, Alphonso Comstock (1860-1936) operated a “machine shop and laboratory” at 1311 Dempster. The building (still extant) was built behind Comstock’s own house at 1302 Asbury. Comstock’s parents, Julia Sprague Comstock (1825-1901) and Charles Comstock (1814-1895) moved to Evanston c. 1860. They built a real estate empire, of sorts, and played a significant role in the development of early Evanston.

Address

225 Greenwood Street
Evanston, IL
60201

Opening Hours

Wednesday 1pm - 4pm
Thursday 1pm - 4pm
Friday 1pm - 4pm
Saturday 1pm - 4pm
Sunday 1pm - 4pm

Telephone

(847) 475-3410

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Our Story

The Dawes House is currently closed until further notice. But EHC remains open! Check our website, evanstonhistorycenter.org and this page for online resources and more! We look forward to being able to reopen with our regular hours: Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 1-4 pm for tours of the Dawes House and viewing of current exhibits. Tours of the house begin on the hour. The EHC Research Room is also closed. You can reach EHC staff by email or by calling (847) 475-3410 during business hours, Tuesday-Friday 9 am - 4 pm.


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