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Northwestern Plans to Transfer Dawes House to Evanston History Center

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May 27, 2009 | by Alan K. Cubbage
EVANSTON, Ill. --- Northwestern University and the Evanston History Center have reached an agreement for the University to transfer the Dawes House and more than half of an existing Dawes endowment fund to the Evanston History Center.

The agreement calls for Northwestern to retain the papers and books of Charles Gates Dawes in the University Library, where they are now kept, while the house and all its furnishings would be given to the Evanston History Center for use as a historical center. Northwestern would retain a portion of the Dawes endowment fund to maintain the library collection.

The Illinois Attorney General approves of the agreement.  The Circuit Court must also approve the agreement before its implementation because it transfers ownership from Northwestern to the Evanston History Center (formerly known as the Evanston Historical Society). Charles Gates Dawes, a former vice president of the United States and a World War I general, donated the house, its contents and the papers to Northwestern in 1942.

The University along with the Evanston History Center maintained the Dawes House as a historical center since 1957, and the Evanston History Center’s headquarters are located there.  The house was closed to the public in April 2008 because of the need to make repairs for safety reasons. It has since reopened.

“We’re very pleased that we were able to reach an agreement with Northwestern so the History Center will have a permanent home and the Dawes House will be maintained as a historical center,” said Marge Wold, president of the Evanston History Center.  A fundraising campaign to add to the endowment for the house will be held in the future, Wold added.

Northwestern will maintain the collection of General Dawes’ papers, books and related materials in the University Library, which provides a climate-controlled environment for those materials, said Eugene S. Sunshine, Northwestern’s senior vice president for business and finance. The Dawes materials will continue to be available to the public for research.

“This agreement will allow the University to continue to carry out its duty to preserve General Dawes’ papers and other materials while giving the Evanston History Center control of the Dawes House and property,” Sunshine said. “The agreement will benefit both the University and the History Center and preserve the legacy of General Dawes in Evanston.”

The request for approval of the agreement is contained in a document that will be filed in Cook County Circuit Court. Illinois law requires approval of the court when property that was given to one charitable organization is later given to another or used for a different purpose. By filing in court, Northwestern and the Evanston History Center are asking for the necessary approval.