• frances willard slider

    Visionary Feminist

    Social Justice Advocate

    Political Activist

  • rest-cottage

    National Historic Landmark

    Original “Rest Cottage” Half Built in 1865

    Part of “Old Timers Row” Evanston’s Oldest Neighborhood

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6


Welcome to our newly revamped web site!  We hope you will find that it is easier to navigate, has more information, is updated more frequently, and is, well, just plain better than our previous web site.

Our major announcement at this time is that we are temporarily closing the Museum to visitors on November 1.  But that’s a good thing!  The reason we are closing is because we have received a number of major gifts in the past 12 months – enough for us to restore four rooms in Rest Cottage, the original portion of Willard House built in 1865. Isn’t that going to be a swell birthday gift for someone turning 150 years old at the end of this year?

In addition to restoring the four rooms, we will also be revising what is on display throughout Willard House so that our visitors can have a richer, more cohesive experience when our docents interpret the history of Willard and her family, the WCTU, and the house itself.  And speaking of docents, when we re-open in the Spring, we will begin having tours each Sunday rather than the current 1st and 3rd Sundays.

Be sure to come back to our web site to get updates that will be posted on our home page and on our blog page.


Before we close, though, we have a number of great events coming up.

October 10 – Tours of the Frances Willard Memorial Library and Archives for area archivists and researchers as part of the Chicago Open Archives weekend sponsored by the Chicago Area Archivists.  Tours at 11am and 1pm. Registration required.

October 17-18 – Frances Willard House will be included in the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s Open House Evanston event. Time: 9 to 5 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday.

Featured Collections Object

Frances Willard's bike, Gladys. Photo credit: Donna Wesley Spencer

Frances Willard’s bike, Gladys.

When Frances Willard’s health began to decline later in life, her doctor recommended that she get exercise and fresh air on a regular basis.  So Willard traveled to England to visit her colleague and friend, Lady Henry Somerset, who purchased a bicycle for her and had people on hand to teach Willard how to ride.  And she did learn how to ride a bicycle – at age 53!  Lore has it that she named the bicycle Gladys because riding it made her glad.

Willard’s Imperial Rover Coventry bicycle pictured here dates from 1892.  Over time, many of the organic materials, such as the leather for the saddle and the rubber tires have deteriorated.  This year we received a grant of $2,500 from the Evanston Bike Club to help restore the bicycle.  We have raised additional funds and are now less than $1,100 away from being able to get the bike restored.  Please consider giving a donation to help fund the restoration.

web design by cpe design