Four Evanston families have lived in this house from its construction in 1889 to the present day. Each owner left a distinctive mark on the house, enriching its history. The house was designated an Evanston landmark by the Evanston City Council in the late 1970s.
Chicago industrialist Edwin Franklin Brown (principal of Brown Brothers Manufacturing Company, a tool-making business) built the house in 1889, in the popular Queen Anne style. The architects were Frederick Baumann and J.K. Cady, who designed a number of Evanston residences. Brown’s son, Edwin Lee Brown—manufacturer, banker inventor, patron of the arts, printer, boat-builder, and athlete—inherited the house in 1891, and lived there with his wife, Sarah.
Frederick Martin, a Chicago grain merchant, purchased the house on May 1, 1895, and lived there with his wife, Annie, and their daughters, Lillian and Elizabeth. In the late 1890s, the Martins remodeled the house with the help of Evanston architect Charles R. Ayars, adding a third floor and building stables, which are now the property’s coach house.
In 1925, Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Church became the third owners of the house. During their travels in Europe in the 1920s, the Churches had been enchanted by English architecture. Returning home to Evanston, they hired the Chicago architectural firm of Charles White and Bertram Weber to transform their new home into the charming Tudor Revival, stucco-and-timber structure we see today.
The Churches were active citizens, to say the least. Ralph Church, a distinguished lawyer, served in the state legislature from 1917-32 and in the US Congress from 1935-40 and 1943-50. Upon her husband’s death, Marguerite Church served in Congress from 1950 until her retirement in 1962, one of a small number of women to serve in the House of Representatives. Together, the Churches represented Evanston in state and national government for 42 years.
In addition to changing the style of their home, the Churches also changed its address. The original address of the house at the corner of Sheridan and Church was 1640 Sheridan, but it was legally renumbered as 300 Church Street, making Ralph, Marguerite and their children, ‘The Churches of Church Street.’ Anecdotally, Church Street was originally named for Evanston’s First Methodist Church, which had stood on that street—in three different locations—since 1856.
In 1990, the house was purchased by its fourth owners, David and Jane Doyle, who lived there with their four children. David, a partner at the law firm Vedder Price, and Jane, a faculty member in the Education Department at the University of Illinois at Chicago (and co-founder of the Center for Independent Futures, a local not-for-profit that supports individuals with disabilities) loved to entertain. Over the next 22 years, the Doyles hosted countless social events, Evanston school functions, and charity events in their gracious home. The Doyles are thrilled that the community and visitors will continue to enjoy this well-loved home far into the future as Stone Porch by the Lake.