Working in the field of history means working to connect the threads of the past to each other and to the bigger picture. I spent some time this past week putting my researching skills to good use and discovering why the International Preservation Studies Center would have Eisenhower paintings hanging on its walls. It turns out that IPSC has an entire space dedicated to this president which is fittingly titled the “Eisenhower Corner.”
But how did this Eisenhower connection all start?
Well, as many of you know the International Preservation Studies Center used to be called the Campbell Center for Historic Preservation Studies. The name Campbell came from Samuel James Campbell, a prominent civic leader in Mount Carroll, IL who attended Shimer College in 1909 and would later lead its Board of Trustees. He later attended nearby Beloit College and became a member of their Board of Trustees as well. Through Beloit College, he met one Holman Dean Pettibone, a fellow trustee of Beloit College and a director of the Chamber of Commerce of the United States under President Eisenhower.
Thanks to his friendship with Pettibone, Campbell was invited to dine at the White House in 1955. Campbell found himself conversing with President Eisenhower about their shared interest in Angus cattle since both men kept herds at their respective properties. Communications between Eisenhower and Campbell continued through the years of Eisenhower’s administration and after it ended, exchanging letters and small gifts throughout the years. As a board member, Campbell spent quite a bit of time on Shimer Campus and bequeathed some of his possessions to the campus when he left. Hence, the presence of Eisenhower paintings at the International Preservation Studies Center.
In this “Eisenhower Corner” you will find the three paintings I mentioned above, but there is also a Christmas Card from the White House and a chest of drawers with a lamp on top that allegedly came from Eisenhower as well. I have included pictures of the paintings below, but pictures do not do the real things justice. If you get the chance to come to campus, make sure to ask one of the staff members about the “Eisenhower Corner” so you can see these hidden treasures for yourself.
Clearly, the Center is filled with fun facts, curious stories, and fascinating connections to history’s bigger picture. Check back here in a few days for the entertaining tale about Tolman Hall’s newest tenants and how they fit into the bigger picture here at IPSC.