Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Dole Mansion

I just finished a visit to the Dole Mansion in Crystal Lake, Illinois.  The house was built by Charles Dole.  He was not the same Dole who started the Dole Plantation in Hawaii, but rather he was an early member of the Chicago Board of Trade as a grain merchant and partner with his brother James Dole in the Chicago-based Armour, Dole and Company.

The house was built during the Civil War period and was used as a summer home for the Dole family.  The estate had over 1,000 acres of land overlooking the lake.   The mansion is a 3-story Italian villa with a tower on top.  Charles Dole imported European craftsmen to lay unique floors in the mansion.  Each room had a different wood layout.  There are many fireplaces throughout the house as the fireplace was used to warm the house in those days.  Construction costs were over $100,000 which was a lot of money in those days.  Mr. Dole also had a racetrack for horses on his property.  There are also many carvings of wheat in the wood and ceilings because of the work that Charles Dole did as a grain merchant.

Mr. Dole was married to his wife Julia and they had 3 children.  His mother-in-law lived with the family.  The Dole family lived in the mansion until the late 1890's when he sold the home to his son-in-law.  The house was later sold to Mrs. Ringling who was the widow of the oldest Ringling brother of the Ringling Brothers Circus.  It was then converted into a country club until the stock market crash of 1929.  It was then converted into a Catholic seminary in 1945.  It is now owned by the Lakeside Legacy Arts Park that has converted the mansion into two art galleries, artist studios, and a cultural center that offers classes and art/music shows. 

It is said that the mansion may be haunted.  I did not see anything out of the ordinary, but on the 3rd floor my camera malfunctioned and would not take a picture near an original sink until I moved backwards.

Here are some of the pictures of the mansion:



The woodwork in the mansion is the original wood.  Some of the furniture on the 2nd floor (the armoire and sink) are original; however, much of the furniture has been brought in to show what the furniture of the time would have looked like.

Much of the 2nd and 3rd floors still need to be rehabbed, but hopefully it will be done down the road. 


All pictures copyrighted to Rita Jean Moran
By Rita Jean Moran (


1 comment:

  1. I went to the Dole Mansion and stood inside that armoire (closet). When I stood inside it, I heard screaming inside my mind, and felt a strange presence standing to the left of me.
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