“The Gates Estate”
The last Landmark of the Month for the year is the Gates Estate, located at 217 S. 2nd Street. The home and carriage house were built by John “Bet-A-Million” Gates for his parents, Asel and Mary, as their retirement home. John Gates made millions of dollars selling barbed wire to cattle ranchers out West. He also owned the Illinois Steel Company, copper mines, railroads and circuses. In 1901, John financed the drilling of the nation’s first oil wells in Texas and founded the Texas Oil Company (later known as Texaco Oil). When John Gates died in 1911, he left his estate, which was estimated to be between $40,000,000 and $50,000,000, to his wife, Dellora Baker Gates. When she died seven years later, the estate was left to her brother, Col. Edward Baker and her niece and namesake, Dellora Norris. Both Baker and Norris went on to use their money to leave many lasting impressions on St. Charles, including the prominent Hotel Baker.
The house and carriage house were built in the Colonial Revival style architecture. The home possesses a front gabled roof, where as the carriage house has a hipped roof with a dormer added. Both houses have the standard rectangular shaped windows that are typical of the Colonial Revival style. The home has elements of other architectural styles such as the 2-story bay on the front of the home, the full pediment gable roof and the fan light at the gable. Although these elements are not typical of the Colonial Revival style, they still contribute to the architectural significance of the home.
For more information about Historic Preservation, please visit https://www.stcharlesil.gov/historic-preservation