Thanks to the generosity of individual donors, of the Bloomington-Normal Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, and of the David Davis Mansion Foundation, the David Davis Mansion State Historic Site was able to remain open during the 2008-2009 calendar years. We would like to extend our profound appreciation to everyone who supported us during this crisis. Without the hundreds of donations given by the local community and by individuals from all over the United States, we could not have staved off the threat of closure.
As we begin planning for our future, the David Davis Mansion will continue to need private (as well as public) funds to operate, and the David Davis Mansion Foundation will continue seeking private financial support for the site's educational programs, heirloom garden restoration and special events. We realize that these are challenging times economically, and we are profoundly grateful to those of you who have already provided us with financial assistance. If you have not already joined our efforts, we hope that you will consider becoming a member of the David Davis Mansion Foundation, giving a special donation, and/or making a contribution to the Endowment, recently created to ensure the Davis Mansion's long-term survival. Please join the David Davis Mansion Foundation today!
Our goal is to raise $130,000.00 to help keep the Mansion open, but we can't do it alone. Your donation/membership in the David Davis Mansion Foundation today will help ensure that future visitors, both young and old, will have a chance to experience a remarkable moment in time, when Illinois stood at the crossroads of the nation's history.
Foundation membership is comprised of Mansion volunteers and individuals who support the Mansion through private donations. In the past, the State has provided funding for day-to-day operations, the Foundation has provided funding for:
- Educational and special events programs
- Purchasing period furnishings and landscaping materials to further site restoration
- Meeting the site's needs for computers and other equipment
- Publicizing the site and its programs
Directions: See map below.
On a flat stretch of Illinois prairie—where Yankee pioneers forged their frontier fortunes and Route 66 later carved a path across the rural landscape—stands an elegant Victorian mansion and garden, completed in 1872 for David Davis and his wife, Sarah. The beautifully restored, nineteenth-century estate tells the story of Judge David Davis, whose influence on Abraham Lincoln's legal and political career was crucial to President Lincoln's success.
Inside the Mansion, visitors will find a remarkable collection of mid-nineteenth-century decorative arts and technological conveniences, illustrating the life of a prosperous Victorian family. Outside, the garden features an unusual amount of original plant material, as well as the same design, pathways, and beds that Sarah Davis first gazed upon when the garden was created in 1872. It was a world where Mr. Lincoln moved comfortably, and the Davis Mansion is one of the best places to hear that part of the Lincoln story.
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 and garden remained in the Davis Family for three succeeding generations, providing 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 site consists of a 36-room mansion, 1870s ornamental flower garden, and 5 outbuildings, situated on 4.1 acres in a residential area east of downtown Bloomington: a Wood house (1872), Barn/stable (1856), Carriage Barn (1868), Foaling Shed (1872) and Garage (1910).
Tours of the David Davis Mansion are available Wednesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Last tour begins at 4:00 p.m.) The Davis Mansion is closed for many state holidays; call for more information. Groups of 10 or more must have reservations. The Davis Mansion is handicapped accessible. Suggested donation: Adults $4, Children $2.
For additional information, write Site Manager, David Davis Mansion State Historic Site, l000 Monroe Drive Bloomington, IL 61701, phone (309) 828-1084; fax (309) 828-3493.
Directions: The David Davis Mansion is located in Bloomington, Illinois, not far from where several interstates merge (I-55, I-74, I-39). Located at the intersection of I-55 between Chicago and St. Louis, I-74 between Peoria and Champaign/Urbana, and I-39 between Decatur and Rockford. From I-55, take Business 51 into town (Main Street/Center Street). Go east on Washington St. turn left onto Davis Avenue (north for 2 blocks).