Step back to a simpler time to explore the craftsmanship and unexpected brilliance of a Civil War era architectural masterpiece – the historic Dole Mansion. Originally intended as Charles Dole’s summer home.
Back in the 1860′s, when the town of Crystal Lake was about 25 years old, Charles S. Dole purchased over 1,000 acres of land overlooking the lake. It was his dream to construct an elaborate estate that would reflect his position as a successful businessman. According to Mr. Dole’s obituary, construction costs exceeded $100,000, an enormous amount of money in those days. Charles was an early member of the Chicago Board of Trade, a grain merchant and partner with his brother James Dole in the Chicago-based Armour, Dole and Company. To carry out his plan, he built a three-story mansion with adjoining gardens and stables. European craftsmen were imported to lay parquet floors, fashion archways and carve interior wood work from black walnut trees grown on the property. As a final touch, he brought in Italian artisans to build several marble fireplaces. His was a time when Daniel Burnham was shaping Chicago’s rebirth after the Great Chicago Fire, for the Colombian Exposition.
The estate was known as Lakeland Farm. Mr. Dole lived there with his wife Julia, his mother-in-law, Mrs. Harriet Coffin, his two daughters, Mary Florence, Harriet (Hattie), and son Sydney.
Dole maintained the estate for over 30 years, entertaining lavishly. As an example, for his daughter’s wedding in 1883 he built a spur line from the Chicago and Northwestern railway tracks almost to his doorstep. A canopied and carpeted walkway extended 750 feet from the front door to the train enabling the guests to walk to the mansion for the ceremony and return to the train without concern for the weather.
Mr. Dole’s interests changed throughout the years. He laid out a half-mile racetrack on his property and purchased the finest horses that money could buy, soon accumulating a string of horses that was the envy of northern Illinois included Julian Rumsey (mayor of Chicago and Dole’s first cousin) and Levi Leiter (first partner with Marshall Field). It is said that Mr. Dole loved to go up in his tower and watch his horses run. When tired of the fad of his stable, he disposed of his beautiful and valuable horses, holding an elaborate sale.
The Dole’s lived in the mansion until the late 1890′s. He sold his home to his son-in-law for $1.00, who continued using the mansion as a place of business an office for his ice harvesting business. During the early 1900′s, the property was owned & operated by several different ice companies. Ice was harvested from Crystal Lake and shipped by rail to nearby Chicago.