In 1935, Adlai E. Stevenson II and his wife purchased 70 acres of land on which to build a home. The first house they built, of "fireproof" construction, burned down soon after it was built. Many of the family's belongings and antiques were lost in the fire. The house standing today is the second house, built on the site in 1938. Like the first house, it was originally painted yellow, which was Ellen's favorite color.
The house, designed by the firm of Perkins, Wheeler and Will, is modern and Art Deco in style, due to the simplicity of its design, and use of geometric shapes, symmetry, and features that are either stepped or curved. Art Deco was a popular international design movement during the 1920s and 1930s. The many large windows, porches, and decks featured throughout the home provide beautiful views of the expansive property.
The most important room in the house is the study. When he was at home, Stevenson spent the majority of his time at his desk in this room, writing speeches and books, and meeting with dignitaries such as Eleanor Roosevelt, a close friend and frequent guest at the home, and John F. Kennedy. Walking through the house and grounds will bring you one step closer to better understanding this extraordinary man.
The second building located on the property is the service building, built in 1937 by the Lake Forest firm of Anderson and Ticknor. This building housed the garage, horse stalls, and the apartment of the caretaker, Frank Holland, and his family. Holland was farm manager and caretaker for the Stevensons from 1937 to 1963, and again from 1965 to 1970.
Adlai E. Stevenson II (1900-1965)
An important and influential figure in the political history of the United States, Adlai Stevenson II was born into an already famous Illinois political family. His grandfather and namesake, Adlai E. Stevenson (1835-1914), was Vice President to Grover Cleveland (1893-1897), and his maternal great-grandfather, Jesse Fell, was a close friend of Abraham Lincoln.
Stevenson II was Governor of Illinois from 1949 to 1953, ran twice for President as the Democratic National Candidate in 1952 and 1956, and served as Ambassador to the United Nations during the Kennedy administration from 1961 to 1965.
Though he lost both presidential campaigns to Dwight D. Eisenhower, it was Stevenson's ideas that are his real lasting legacy. His importance lay in his efforts to raise the level of the public's awareness about the nature of the world, America's place in it, and what the future was likely to hold.
When he died of a heart attack in London in 1965, The New York Times wrote "To the public dialogue of his time he brought intelligence, civility and grace. We who have been his contemporaries have been companions of greatness."