David Davis Mansion – Bloomington, Illinois

David Davis Mansion - Bloomington, Illinois.jpgDavid Davis Mansion – Bloomington, Illinois

This elegant Victorian mansion, completed in 1872 for Judge David Davis and his wife, Sarah. Now you can enjoy the splendor of their home, furnished with sumptuous English carpeting, expensive French glass, and rare Italian marble, gives opulent testimony to their life and times.

From his earliest days riding the circuit with Abraham Lincoln to the years when he served as Lincoln’s appointee to the highest court in the land, Judge Davis played out his life at the very center of American politics and society. His Bloomington home, which remained in the Davis Family for three succeeding generations, provided a focal point for the social, cultural and political life of the community. In 1960, the house was donated to the State of Illinois; today, it is operated as a state historic site by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency.

The octagonal room (at the front of the house) is the public entrance to the Mansion. It featured imported, encaustic tile from England and etched glass doors from France, and served as a transition between the public and private areas of the house–a place to impress visitors who were entering the house for the first time.

The front hall further divides the mansion into public and private space. The hallstand, which dominates the room, suggests the wealth and status of the mansion’s occupants, while the elk’s head reflects the Victorian’s love of nature.

To the east of the hallway is the sitting room, this room was designed for the family’s comfort, and the furnishings were more casual. The Judge’s handcrafted rocking chair, simple and utilitarian compared with the parlor furnishings, was placed near the fireplace.

Across the hall, the parlor is fashionably furnished and stylishly decorated, with an elegant fireplace of Carrara marble, quarried in Italy. The center table, sofa, and seven chairs, purchased from a New-York furniture maker in 1872, are constructed of walnut in the Renaissance Revival style.

The dining room was also fashionably appointed, with two sideboards, coffee-colored lace curtains and decoratively painted walls and ceilings. It has a more masculine look than the parlor, which is decorated as a feminine room.

The master bedroom decorations, though less elaborate than in the public rooms, were refined. Like the other family bedrooms in the house, this bedchamber featured a built-in closet, marble fireplace and lavatory, and was outfitted with wall-to-wall carpeting, lace curtains and other tasteful furnishings.

Upstairs the guests and family members stayed in these four bedrooms, where they enjoyed the comforts of built-in sinks and adjacent, private bathrooms.

The location and design of the servants’ wing (at the back of the house) allowed the Davis servants to complete their chores without intruding upon the family or their guests in the front of the house. Two servants’ bedrooms were located directly above the kitchen. A rear stairway, connecting those rooms with the basement and attic, separated the housekeeping functions from the rest of the house.

A modern, coal-burning, cast-iron cooking stove, which featured two large baking ovens and two smaller warming ovens, was the centerpiece of the Davis kitchen. The stove also heated water that was stored in an adjacent copper tank and circulated throughout the mansion.

Guided tours of the David Davis Mansion are given every half hour and every hour throughout the day, beginning at 9:30 A.M. Tours begin in the Barn/Visitor Center.

Hours:

Wednesday – Sunday, 9:00 A.M. – 5:00 P.M. Last tour begins at 4:00 P.M.

Closed:

Monday-Tuesday

New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Day, President’s Day, Veterans’ Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas Days

Donations:

No fee is charged; donations are always welcome.

Suggested donations: Adults: $2. Children (under 17): $1
Reservations:

Group tours are always welcome. Reservations are required for parties of 10 or more.

Tours Available:

Adult/Coach General Day Tours

Adult/Coach Evening Tours

Adult/Coach Evening Reception

Adult/Coach Special Tea Program

Adult/Coach Evening with Sarah Davis

Adult/Coach Sarah’s Garden Tour

School Children – Dave & Abes Great Adventure

School Children – Snap Apple Tour

School Children – Big House on the Prairie Tour

School Children – Sarah’s Garden Tour

Visitor Services:

Public restrooms are located in the building north of the Visitor Center

These rooms are accessible to persons with disabilities:

Public restrooms

First floor of Mansion

Visitor Center

Location: 1000 E. Monroe Dr., Bloomington, IL 61701

Telephone: (309) 828-1084

Comments

  1. I read the above artical….it was interesting but inacurate.
    My birthmother was the housekeeper for Mrs. Davis Sen. David Davis’s mother who lived in the house before David gave it to the state. As a little girl and teenager I stayed with (Aunt Anna and Mrs. Davis) in the house. The curtains in the dinning room etc…were changed with the seasons…Aunt Anna’s room with shower etc. was located on the second floor at the head of the steps to the right. Where she ironed and sewed was the next room over. I loved to sit and talk to Mrs Davis and she always told me the same stories…about the house…It wasd the blinds in the study were she set…the room on the right of the front entry door, that intreged me. They had Europian scenes that came into view during the daylight hours. I’m a 74 year ols woman now. But my days and nights spent at the David Davis mansion are fond memories…But I didn’t know that Aunt Anna was my birthmother untill my (dad) her bother died May 23, 2002.
    Thank you. Everetta Boehme Lakeland, Florida

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