David Davis Mansion, Clover Lawn, Bloomington, Illinois
The David Davis Mansion, also known as Clover Lawn, is a Victorian home in Bloomington that was the residence of David Davis (1815-1886), a distinguished jurist, who 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.
Set in a residential neighborhood on Bloomington's near-south-side, the three-story yellow brick mansion comprises 36 rooms in an Italianate villa style. The mansion's lot includes an 1872 wood house, a barn and stable, privies, a foaling shed, carriage barn, and a flower and ornamental cutting garden.
Davis commissioned French-born architect Alfred Piquenard (1826-1876) to design the late-Victorian style mansion, which combines Italianate and Second Empire architectural features and is a model of mid-Victorian style and taste. Piquenard was a prominent Midwest architect who designed the State Capitol in Springfield. The home was meant as a residence for Davis' 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. David Davis himself spent most of his time there after his retirement from the U.S. Senate in 1883.
The house remained in the Davis family until 1960, when it was donated to the state of Illinois, which operates it as a state historic site. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972 and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1975.
Bloomington is the seat of McLean County. It is adjacent to Normal, and is the more populous of the two principal municipalities of the Bloomington-Normal metropolitan area. Bloomington is home to State Farm Insurance, Country Financial and Beer Nuts. Illinois Wesleyan University is located here, while the neighboring city of Normal is home to Illinois State University and Heartland Community College. Bloomington is 135 miles (217 km) southwest of Chicago, and 162 miles (261 km) northeast of St. Louis. The estimated population of Bloomington in 2019 was 77,330, with a metro population of 191,067.