Some fans of the Evanston History Center plan to stage a guerilla theater event Thursday morning at 9:45 a.m. at which they promise to bring Gen. Charles Gates Dawes back from the dead to reclaim his home from Northwestern University.

The history center backers are upset that the university has decided it’s uneconomical to maintain the building 225 Greenwood St. and do upgrades needed to meet modern fire codes, and that therefore the center needs to move out so the building can be sold to a private buyer or used as a home for a university employee.

The center, even advocates concede, has no legally binding agreement with the university for perpetual use of the mansion, only a promise from the university made in 1943 to house the center there “indefinitely” and to use “every effort” to find space for the society in another university building if there was a need to move.

The center’s backers say 750 people toured the mansion or attended special events there last year, over 300 people conducted research in its archives and 1,500 people attended various center events.

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Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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4 Comments

  1. VP Dawes
    Is this resurrection of Vice President Dawes also going to pay the bills for utilities and maintenance of his residence? And will he pay property taxes too? I think that he is in arrears for about 60 years.
    If not, then the County Sheriff should evict this guy, and auction off the property.

    1. The Evanston History Center
      The Evanston History Center will continue to pay for the utilities and maintenance on the Dawes House as it has for 48 years.

      I believe it is in our community’s best interest to have a thriving Evanston History Center and to keep the Dawes House open for the public. I hope that NU will recognize that evicting EHC and turning the house into a private residence would be a terrible mistake.

  2. Saving the World through Street Theater
    This stunt reminds me of the “Freedom School” hippies in the 1970 movie, “Billyjack.” These longhairs also felt they could affect change (in their case, better relations with the suspicious, conservative townspeople living near their school) through improvisational street theater skits performed in the local town square. Pop culture aficionados should note that then-unknown actor Howard Hesseman played Billjack’s most memorable hippy-improv character.

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