The Top Five Reasons to Visit the Cheney Mansion in Oak Park, IL

Even amongst the grand homes in Oak Park’s Frank Lloyd Wright district, Cheney Mansion is a particularly special landmark that stands out. The estate, which rambles across an entire square block nestled a few blocks away from the bustling Hemingway business district, is unique in terms of its size (sprawling properties are virtually unheard of in the landlocked suburb).


It’s a visual treat to be able to walk around a century-old property right outside of Chicago that hearkens back to the English countryside, whether it’s for a private party or for one of the many programs and events that the Park District of Oak Park hosts for the public. If you haven’t been yet, here are five reasons why visiting Cheney Mansion is well worth your time. 

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Top 5 Reasons to Visit the Cheney Mansion


Take a look at our top five reasons to visit the Cheney Mansion.


#1 Experience the Rich History


While it’s known as Cheney Mansion now, its namesake, Elizabeth Cheney, was actually the last private owner of the home. In 1913, the C.E. Sharpe family commissioned architect Charles E. White Jr. to build a house at 220 N. Euclid Ave. Originally from Massachusetts, White married Alice May Roberts (daughter of Oak Park inventor Charles E. Roberts) and settled in Oak Park, where he worked under Frank Lloyd Wright before establishing his own studio in 1905. Among his notable works in Oak Park is the U.S. Post Office on Lake Street, which features beautiful Art Deco designs.


In 1922 Andrew and Mary Hooker Dole purchased the mansion. (Oak Parkers will recognize the Dole name—their donations funded the construction of the Dole branch of the Oak Park Public Library.) After Andrew passed away in 1945, his niece, Elizabeth Cheney, moved into the home and officially inherited it in 1949. Cheney, who previously spent 15 years of her career in the book department at Chicago’s Carson Pirie Scott department store, loved to travel and decorated the house with antiques she collected from her many trips. Cheney transferred ownership to the Park District of Oak Park in 1975 but lived there until her passing in 1985. 


#2 Marvel in the Beautiful Architecture


Spanning 12,000 square feet and evoking the charm of an elegant English country estate, Cheney Mansion features numerous inviting reception areas, six bedrooms, seven bathrooms, and a distinct area for household staff. The meticulously landscaped two-acre grounds include a coach house and a greenhouse. Like traditional English country estates that feature gardening “rooms,” the gardens are divided into subsections, including a fully functional kitchen garden bordered by an espalier fence, a woodland path, and a spacious lawn perfect for everything from casual picnics to outdoor weddings. The grounds are open to the public every day until sunset (except on days when they are reserved for private events), so residents and visitors are welcome to stroll through and take in the views. 


Inside, visitors will enjoy all the comforts of an English country home. Cheney Mansion is outfitted with beautiful traditional architectural elements from the turn of the century, including a grand staircase, antique inlaid floors, a small library, a coach house, sun-drenched windows, and much more. Large balconies (as well as a waterfall on the grounds) are perfect for everything from selfies to formal photo portraits. Despite its size, Cheney Mansion feels very intimate and much like visiting a cozy home with friends. 


#3 Spend a Fun Day on the Historic Homes and Gardens Tours


One of the best ways to take in Cheney Mansion is through one of Oak Park’s Historic Homes and Gardens tours, where you can explore three Oak Park landmarks on the same day. Docents from the Park District of Oak Park will take you on a tour of Cheney Mansion, Oak Park’s Pleasant Home, and the beautiful Oak Park Conservatory. Here’s a little more about the two additional stops on the tour:


Pleasant Home was designed by architect George Maher in 1897. This 30-room architectural marvel displays the exquisite craftsmanship of the 19th century. Maher worked with Frank Lloyd Wright and was a proponent of the Prairie School architectural style, which featured many of the ideas of the nature-inspired Arts and Crafts movement. The building features intricate custom woodwork, stunning glass art windows, a grand fireplace, detailed wood carvings, and beautifully crafted tilework throughout. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.


The Oak Park Conservatory was first established in 1914 as a way to house the exotic plants of Oak Park residents who brought them back from their travels; its current Edwardian-style glass greenhouse was built in 1929 and expanded to 8,000 square feet in 2000, making it the third largest conservatory in the Chicagoland area. In addition to housing some plants dating back to its founding, it also features an extensive desert plant collection and ferns and orchids collection. Visitors can also relax by a pond that features koi, turtles and other wildlife. It also hosts educational lectures and children’s programs, and its annual plant sale (with plants grown in its own greenhouse) is a popular annual fundraiser. The Conservatory was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2005.


Interested in booking a tour of these three historic sites? You can find out more at



#4 Attend One of Their Wonderful Events


Cheney Mansion hosts a diverse assortment of events year-round that include arts and crafts, dog-friendly events, brunches, culinary events, holiday events, and much more. It’s a great way to gather with friends, and all ticket sales go to support the upkeep and maintenance of this historic home.



At Cheney Mansion, you can dance the night away: Every Monday is “Dancin’ at the Mansion,” where you can take a swing, cha cha, and Latin rhythms dance classes. 


Food and Cooking

Local restaurants such as Mexican favorite Maya Del Sol have offered mezcal tastings on the patio, while nearby candy shops such as Candycopia offer chocolate and wine tastings. High-end area butcher shop Carnivore has taught classes on the basics of cleaning and grilling fish (guests can enjoy a freshly grilled meal after the demonstration). Local chefs also offer a variety of unusual cooking classes, such as a crash course in cooking techniques for college students going away to school. 


Yoga brunch

Once a month during the summer, visitors can enjoy an outdoor yoga class on the beautiful grounds. Afterward, they can socialize with friends while enjoying a catered brunch. 


Music on the Patio

Enjoy classical music? The Symphony of Oak Park and River Forest can be found playing on the mansion’s patio for hour-long concerts during the summer. Bring your blanket or camp chairs and enjoy drinks and light appetizers before the music starts.


Holiday Events

Some of Cheney Mansion’s most beloved local events are its Breakfast, Lunch, and Tea with Santa parties. Each December, local families come dressed in their holiday best for baked treats and festivities. Each child gets to spend time with Old Saint Nick himself, sharing their Christmas wish list and taking photos. Learn more at


Want to stop by? View the complete list of events at



#5 Visit to Host Your Own Event


Looking to host a private event? You’ve come to the right mansion. In fact, more than three-quarters of the events at Cheney Mansion are private parties. Weddings are the most popular, but Cheney Mansion is also a popular place to host baby showers, bridal showers, rehearsal dinners, fundraisers, memorials, corporate events, and more. Because Cheney Mansion is located only nine miles from downtown Chicago and a short distance from the Eisenhower Expressway, it’s a very easy drive for city guests. (There are nearby train and Metra options, too.) With ample space inside as well as the three-season outdoor grounds, Cheney Mansion is an attractive and intimate place to host your special event. The building’s professional staff will help you select from a list of approved caterers and other vendors and work on all the details to create a beautiful, unique experience for your special day. Call 708-725-2500 or email to learn more, get price lists, and schedule your private tour.


Meet us at Cheney Mansion


Cheney Mansion is one of the jewels of Oak Park, a beautiful, well-preserved home and estate that both residents and visitors can enjoy. Architecture buffs (and anyone who enjoys beautiful homes) will love touring through the gorgeous turn-of-the-century interiors of the house (along with other nearby architectural landmarks such as Pleasant Home and the Oak Park Conservatory).


Visitors looking for a fun evening out, a high-end wine tasting, a yoga class, or even a visit with Santa will have plenty of events to choose from. The mansion is also a popular locale for elegant private events. Whether you just want to stroll the grounds or maybe even have your wedding there, a visit to Cheney Mansion is an event to remember. Learn more at