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Crystal Lake, IL History
Dated: May 5 2021
In 1836, the first settlers, Beman and Polly Crandall as well as their six children, traveled from New York State to Crystal Lake in a covered wagon. The Crandall’s original cabin was built in the vicinity of today’s intersection between Virginia Street and Van Buren Street.
The town was first known as Crystal Ville, but sometime before 1840, the name changed to Crystal Lake. In 1856, the first train depot was established. The depot, called the Crystal Lake Station, shipped from Chicago on a flat car.
The villages of Crystal Lake and Nunda incorporated in 1874. In 1908, the name of the Village of Nunda changed to “North Crystal Lake.” Finally, after much disagreement, the Village of North Crystal Lake annexed into the Village of Crystal Lake in 1914, and a new city form of government established.
Back in the 1860s, when the town of Crystal Lake was about 25 years old, Charles S. Dole purchased over 1,000 acres (4.0 km2) of land overlooking the lake. It was his dream to construct an elaborate estate that would reflect his position as a successful businessman. He was an early member of the Chicago Board of Trade, being associated with Armour, Dole & Co. in Chicago. 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. According to Mr. Dole's obituary, construction costs exceeded $100,000, an enormous amount of money in those days.
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 (230 m) 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. Notable wedding guests included Julian Rumsey (mayor of Chicago and Dole's first cousin) and Levi Leiter (first partner with Marshall Field).
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. It is said that Dole loved to go up in his tower (currently closed off) and watch his horses run. When tired of the fad of his stable, he disposed of his horses by holding an elaborate sale. The Doles lived in the mansion until the late 1890s when the property was sold to his son in law for $1.00.
During the early 1900s, the property was owned and operated by several different ice companies. Ice was harvested from Crystal Lake and shipped by rail to nearby Chicago. The advent of refrigeration brought about the decline of the ice business. After laying vacant for several years, the property was sold in 1922 to the Lake Development Company. Today the Dole Mansion is owned by the Lakeside Legacy, along with Lakeside center, which is the building connected to the Dole Mansion. Dole Mansion is located along the lake, and there is a festival held on the grounds every year.
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