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updated: 4/29/2014 1:26 PM

Stevenson home receives national historic landmark status

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  • Katherine Hamilton-Smith, director of cultural resources at the Lake County Forest Preserve District, discusses the fact that the Adlai E. Stevenson II Historic Home in Mettawa has been named a national historic landmark by the National Park Service.

       Katherine Hamilton-Smith, director of cultural resources at the Lake County Forest Preserve District, discusses the fact that the Adlai E. Stevenson II Historic Home in Mettawa has been named a national historic landmark by the National Park Service.
    Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

  • The Adlai E. Stevenson II Historic Home in Mettawa was built in 1938 by Stevenson and his wife, Ellen Borden, and is located in Wright Woods Forest Preserve and owned by the Lake County Forest Preserve District.

       The Adlai E. Stevenson II Historic Home in Mettawa was built in 1938 by Stevenson and his wife, Ellen Borden, and is located in Wright Woods Forest Preserve and owned by the Lake County Forest Preserve District.
    Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

  • The Adlai E. Stevenson II Historic Home in Mettawa has been named a national historic landmark by the National Park Service.

       The Adlai E. Stevenson II Historic Home in Mettawa has been named a national historic landmark by the National Park Service.
    Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

  • Photo of Adlai Stevenson with Eleanor Roosevelt.

      Photo of Adlai Stevenson with Eleanor Roosevelt.
    Courtesy of Lake County Forest Preserve District

  • Photo of Adlai Stevenson as United Nations ambassador.

      Photo of Adlai Stevenson as United Nations ambassador.
    Courtesy of Lake County Forest Preserve District

  • Stevenson House on St. Mary's Road in Mettawa.

       Stevenson House on St. Mary's Road in Mettawa.
    Paul Valade | Staff Photographer, 2008

  • Displays in the Adlai Stevenson House.

      Displays in the Adlai Stevenson House.
    Courtesy of the Stevenson Center on Democracy

  • Video: Stevenson home a landmark

 
 

The Adlai E. Stevenson II Historic Home in southeast Lake County has been named a national historic landmark by the National Park Service.

The home, built in 1938 by Stevenson and his wife, Ellen Borden, is located in the Wright Woods Forest Preserve in Mettawa. It's owned by the Lake County Forest Preserve District.

The former Illinois governor's home is one of four locations to earn the new designation announced as part of National Park Week.

National Historic Landmarks are designated by the secretary of the interior for possessing "exceptional value or quality in illustrating or interpreting the heritage of the United States," according to the National Park Service website.

Today, there's about 2,500 national historic landmarks throughout the country.

Katherine Hamilton-Smith, the forest district's director of cultural resources, was excited by the honor and what it means for the county.

"(It's) just one more feather in the cap of Lake County," she said. "This is an important place, and important things happened here."

The farm is closely associated with many of Stevenson's political activities.

Stevenson was governor from 1949 to 1953 and twice ran for president for the Democratic Party. He also served as ambassador to the United Nations during President John F. Kennedy's administration.

As U.N. ambassador during the 1961 Bay of Pigs Invasion and the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, Stevenson played a major role in Cold War politics during the mid-20th century.

Stevenson's grandfather and namesake, Adlai E. Stevenson, served as vice president to Grover Cleveland.

"(Stevenson was) an important son of Illinois," Hamilton-Smith said. "And he lived his adult life in Lake County, Illinois."

The home's modern and art deco style is highlighted in geometric shapes and features with lots of large windows, porches and decks to overlook the property, according to the Lake County Forest Preserve website. It's where Stevenson lived much of his adult life.

The main house is largely unfinished, with the exception of Stevenson's study, which is furnished with all original items, including his desk, his White House Cabinet chair from when he was U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and Stevenson family books, Hamilton-Smith said.

The study is presented to approximate when Stevenson resided in the house in the 1950s and 1960s, she added.

Between April and October, guests can visit the service building and its exhibits about Stevenson's life and career from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

Guided tours can be arranged by calling (847) 968-3422 for details.

The next scheduled tours are Sunday, May 4, from 1 to 2 p.m. and 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. The tours are for those ages 8 and older and cost $5 each for adults and children who are Lake County residents; $7 each for adults and children who are not county residents. Register by phone at (847) 968-3321 or online.

In addition to the Stevenson property, three other locations were bestowed historic landmark status: The Detroit Industry Murals, Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, MI.; George Nakashima Woodworker Complex, Bucks County, PA.; and the 1956 Grand Canyon TWA-United Airlines Aviation Accident Site, Grand Canyon National Park, AZ.

• Staff Writer Russell Lissau contributed to this report.

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