The Evanston History Center (EHC) announces the launch of the “Year of Dawes,” a yearlong series of programs, publications and events held in honor of the 150th birthday of Charles Gates Dawes (1865-1951), whose former Evanston home now serves as EHC headquarters. Mr. Dawes, who served as vice president under Calvin Coolidge, was one of Evanston’s most famous citizens. The year of special programming is designed to re-examine Mr. Dawes’ career and biography and also to explore the larger context of an early-20th century world that has all but vanished.
“We are thrilled to kick off the ‘Year of Dawes,’” said Eden Juron Pearlman, EHC executive director, “because of the special opportunity it affords us to examine Charles Gates Dawes and his family in a multifaceted way and to bring top-level programming to the community as part of this exciting yearlong initiative.”
Born in the last year of the American Civil War, Charles Dawes led a fascinating life that took him to France during World War I, to Washington, D.C. on numerous occasions while serving in various government posts, and to London, where he served as U.S. ambassador to Great Britain. He saw war firsthand, “cussed” before an investigative committee – a move that skyrocketed him to national fame. He was known for smoking a signature upside-down pipe and was best friends with General John Pershing. He also donated his mansion at 225 Greenwood St. so that future generations could see a way of life that he knew was vanishing quickly.
The “Year of Dawes” will include a variety of programing, a special exhibit focused on Mr. Dawes’ life and career and two publications: a new edition of his 1921 “A Journal of the Great War” and a biography of Mr. Dawes by award-winning author Annette Dunlap, to be published by Northwestern University Press. A series of lectures will include biographical talks about the Dawes family in Evanston, an exploration of the landscape of the Dawes House, as well as talks on themes related to Mr. Dawes’ career and life, including finance, genealogy, adoption and others.
“Charles Dawes was once a world- famous figure,” said Jenny Thompson, EHC director of education. “During his long career he found himself at the center of world events, from serving in France during World War I to working on the issue of German reparations after the war, for which he was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize. The ‘Year of Dawes’ is designed to help re-introduce him to the public and also to provide a chance to explore a variety of themes and topics that were relevant to his life and times.”
The “Year of Dawes” will officially kick off on what would have been Mr. Dawes’s 150th birthday, Aug. 27, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. There will be a starlight party at the Dawes House featuring live music, appetizers, cocktails and a momentous announcement about the future of the Dawes House. The event is free and open to all. RSVP is required by calling 847-475-3410 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.