It’s official. Dawes House will soon belong to the Evanston History Center now that Cook County Circuit Court Judge Kathleen M. Pantle approved last Tuesday the transfer of ownership from Northwestern University.
“It’s awesome and kind of scary now that it’s all ours,” an elated Margaret Wold, EHC president, said on that historic day. “We’re very excited to begin developing a stronger presence in the Evanston community.”
The transfer agreement between NU and EHC has been in the works since last year at this time. Talks began soon after Northwestern announced in April 2008 its plan to sell the 28-room, lakefront mansion. University officials said at the time that the cost of maintaining the 113-year-old structure with all the new safety codes and liabilities had become prohibitive, especially when Dawes House didn’t directly support NU’s primary mission of higher education.
Northwestern has owned the house since 1942. That’s when former U.S. Vice President Charles Gates Dawes gave the house, its furnishings and his tremendous collection of family and Northwest Territory documents to the University with the idea the house would also provide a permanent home for the Evanston Historical Society, now called the Evanston History Center.
Northwestern took possession of Dawes House in 1957 after Gen. Dawes’ wife, Caro Blymyer Dawes, passed away. EHC has made its home there since 1960.
In addition to Northwestern giving Dawes House and its furnishings to EHC, the two entities will split the endowment funds Gen. Dawes set up. NU will keep 40 percent of the million-dollar-plus fund to preserve the Dawes Collection at the university library.