History of the John C. Haines House

This historic farmhouse was built about 1843 for Lake County pioneer James Montgomery. In 1857, it was purchased for use as a summer home by John C. Haines, who was elected Mayor of the city of Chicago the following year. During the 1870s, Haines built a large addition onto the south end of the house, adding two parlors, a dining room, large entry hall and bedrooms. In 1879, Haines and his family took up permanent residence, and he lived here until his death in 1896.

Fred Buck purchased the house and property in 1909, with the goal of creating a park for the city of Waukegan. Although he was elected Mayor of Waukegan that year, his dream was unrealized due to the remote location of the property from the city borders.

Bowen Country Club

Bowen Park, the lovely setting for the Waukegan History Museum, is the former location of the Joseph Tilton Bowen Country Club, founded in 1912. The setting was chosen by Chicago philanthropist Louise deKoven Bowen and Hull House founder Jane Addams. After visiting more than sixty sites around Chicago, Addams said of the property, “In this place all desirable things seem to have been combined without the interference of man.”

Mrs. Bowen purchased the property for use as a summer vacation home for underprivileged children from Hull House, many of whom had little if any opportunity to leave the congested conditions of the inner city. Named in memory of her husband, Mrs. Bowen felt strongly that the site should be called a Country Club to remove the stigma of charity, and make the residents feel as if they had a club of their own. The seventy-two acres contained a playground, swimming pool, recreation hall, and large commons. Over 200 children could be accommodated in the dormitories, and visits would last two weeks.

Picturesque Lilac Cottage was built in 1928 as a residence for Mrs. Bowen and Jane Addams. The Haines house was utilized as a residence for the caretakers, as well as providing space for the camp director, gardener and counselors. The Club operated for fifty years until 1963, when the property was acquired by the Waukegan Park District. Lilac Cottage now houses the John L. Raymond Research Library. Bowen Country Club was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.