History of The Dole

The Dole Mansion is a Victorian-era Romantic Italianate manor built-in 1865 for Charles Sidney Dole, an influential grain baron and ice harvester. With the purchase of 1000 acres, Lakeland Farms was born. The mansion, constructed around 1865, is one of Crystal Lake’s most significant historic structures. In 1922, Eliza Ringling turned it into a members-only club called the Crystal Lake Country Club. Local preservationists responded in 2002 with a grassroots campaign that—in two months—helped to save the mansion from conversion into townhouses and condominiums. Today The Dole is a 501(c)3 charitable organization with a mission to preserve and protect the historic property.

The materials used to build the Dole Mansion were locally made brick, native stone, and an abundance of dark walnut wood and oak—the best material found on the 1000 acres. When you look at the house today, you can see that the original structure has slightly altered since its original state. Most Victorian homes are typically heavily ornamented with expensive decorative features. The Dole Mansion is no exception. The interior restoration committee refurbished many of the rooms with mirrors and moldings to their original grandeur.

Crystal Lake’s pristine waters provided pure quality ice, prompting Charles S. Dole to run 12 commercial ice houses under the name of Crystal Ice Company. Cutting ice from the lake, he could ship it to the Chicago-based company Knickerbocker Ice and the Midwest. The ice trade helped the town become a leading commercial center for northern Illinois.

The sometimes-eccentric philanthropist who led a lavish lifestyle pursued interests that engaged the entire community from a backyard horse track to a carpeted and covered walkway that ran from the train station to his front door. The Dole family left a lasting impression on the landscape of Crystal Lake. If, Dole were alive today he would have turned 202 on November 2nd, and he would walk across the property and revel in the fact that it stands as a place for the community to gather to experience the annual Independence Day Lakeside Festival, the Sunday Farmers Market+, Music Under the Trees, view visual art exhibits in the galleries, and enjoy live entertainment shows in the Listening Room. The property thrives on the generosity of the community and welcomes contributions, sponsorships, volunteerism, and attendance at events to protect it for generations to come.

Schedule a tour or make plans to visit the property during the upcoming Indoor Farmers Market+ on November 21, December 5, December 12 and December 19 or learn more by contacting:

The Dole Mansion