David Davis Mansion
1000 Monroe Drive, Bloomington 309/828-1084
Jan-Dec: Wed-Sat 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
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Teachers in Illinois schools (grades prekindergarten through 12) can apply for grant funds to visit this site on a field trip with their students. Click here for the details.
David Davis (1815-1886), a distinguished jurist, was born in Maryland and studied law in New England. In 1836 he settled in Bloomington and in 1844 won election as a Whig to the Illinois legislature. Four years later he was elected Judge of Illinois’ Eighth Judicial Circuit and served on the bench during Abraham Lincoln’s remaining years as an attorney on the circuit. The two became close friends, and Davis served as Lincoln’s manager at the 1860 Republican nominating convention in Chicago. In 1862 President Lincoln appointed Davis to the United States Supreme Court. In 1877 Davis resigned from the court after being elected to the United States Senate by the Illinois legislature. He served as Senate president pro tempore from 1881 to 1883.
Davis commissioned French-born architect Alfred Piquenard (1826-1876) to design the late-Victorian style mansion, primarily as a residence for his wife, Sarah Davis (1814-1879), who did not want to live in Washington, D.C. Known as Clover Lawn, the mansion was constructed between 1870 and 1872. Davis retired from the Senate in 1883 and spent the remainder of his life at Clover Lawn.
The three-story yellow brick home, east of downtown Bloomington, comprises thirty-six rooms. The large, tree-shaded lot includes an 1872 wood house, a barn and stable, privies, a foaling shed, carriage barn, and a flower and ornamental cutting garden. The circular drive to the Mansion remains as originally configured. The property was entered on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972 and in 1975 was declared a National Historic Landmark.
Visitors view twenty rooms on the second and third floors, many of them containing pieces of high-style Renaissance Revival furniture purchased by Sarah Davis for her new home. The site’s visitor center is accessible to persons with disabilities.
The site hosts a number of special events, including “Mr. Lincoln’s Birthday,” the “Glorious Garden Festival” in June, an “Antique Car Exhibition,” and a Thanksgiving celebration, “The Blessings of the Table,” in November. Beginning in late November, the Mansion is lavishly decorated for “Christmas at Clover Lawn.” Christmas “Gaslight Tours” are also offered the 3rd Saturday evening in December. Many programs are supported by the David Davis Mansion Foundation.