A museum and national historic landmark dedicated to the life and work of Frances Willard, a 19th-century social reformer and the president of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) – a women’s organization promoting national prohibition, Christian values, and woman suffrage.
Willard House wasn’t only the home of her and her family, but also the headquarters of the WCTU, and a residence for its workers. Willard called the house ‘rest cottage’ for it has been a resting place between her WCTU activities. After her death, she left it to the organization.
In 1900, the WCTU headquarters moved to the Annex, and the ‘Rest Cottage’ was opened as a museum and a memorial site for Frances Willard’s life and activities, as well as for the organization’s work and achievements throughout the years.
The museum is located in the original family house, built in 1865. It has a collection of various original objects, including artworks, books, textiles, furniture, and family photographs.
Visitors can learn about the lives in the 19th century, and how a family home became the headquarters of an activist movement, both a boarding house and a public space.
There are also organized tours, talks, and special events, such as New Works in Women’s History Talk with the historian Sara Egge, and an open studio session with the artist Vanessa Filley.
The Frances Willard House Museum is part of the ‘Tour Evanston Women’s History Map’, a self-guided tour of fifteen women’s historical sites throughout Evanston.