Welcome to Shiloh House

Author: AMJ

Welcome to Shiloh House
Home of John Alexander Dowie Founder of Zion

A Self-guided Tour

Historic Shiloh House 1300 Shiloh Blvd. Zion, Illinois
Self-guided Tour

Please note as you tour historic Shiloh House that, in most rooms, a photograph of how the room looked when Dr. and Mrs. Dowie occupied the house is on display. Please respect closed doors and drawers.


The Foyer
The transom glass is decorated with an etched design of the Zion Shield. The chandelier, from Europe, is of soft brass with yellow/green nipple glass covers. The clock on the east wall, from the Vinnedge Barber Shop, was restored and donated by Wesley Ashland, founder and 1st president of Zion Historical Society. Mr. Ashland’s portrait hangs at the foot of the stairs. Note the warming bench or “Hot Seat” at the foot of the stairway. It was so named because the bench is warmed by the radiator concealed underneath it. The memorial plaque lists the names of those whose contributions have earned them Zion Historical Society Lifetime Member status. Those listed in gold and silver have donated in excess of $1,000. Starred names are those of the deceased.

The Family Parlor
On the east wall hangs a photo of the Dowie family in their 12th Street apartment in Chicago. Above the fireplace hangs a portrait of Dr. Dowie’s daughter, Esther. On her right and left hang portraits of Dr. Dowie and his wife, Jane. Portraits of Dr. Dowie’s son, Gladstone, (left) and Mrs. Dowie (right) hang on the north wall The ornate divan came from Scotland and its ends fold down to make a lounge. The small round table belonged to Mrs. Dowie and the Bible on it was the personal property of Wilbur Glen Voliva. The old pump organ belonged to music teacher, Emelia Nelson. The settee and navy upholstered sofa are of the period but are not original to the house.

The Dining Room
The Dining Room was the first room to be restored. The corner china cabinet was not original to the house. Pieces of the Dowies’ china and silverware are on display in the cabinet. The grandfather clock, from England, was a gift to the Society. The massive mahogany table is sectional with two half circle and three rectangular sections. The chairs are leather upholstered. Originally there were 16 chairs. The table, along with a 16-foot sideboard and 32 bookcases, was purchased from the Tobey Furniture Factory of Chicago at a cost of $50,000. A portrait of Dr. Dowie hangs on the east wall. Portraits of Mrs. Jane Dowie (left) and Dr. Dowie’s daughter, Esther, (right) hang on the west wall.

The Business Parlor
On the east side of the foyer is the business parlor that Dr. Dowie used for public meetings, musicals and small services. The lace portrait of Dr. Dowie over the fireplace was woven at the Zion Lace Factory. On the west wall, between the doors, is a photo of the diaconate, ministers and others of the Zion staff. Longtime ZHS member Dorothea Edwards donated the baby grand piano. The settee and matching armchair belonged to the Dowie family. The fainting couch was the property of the Dowie family. The Edison Amberola is not operational. Dr. Dowie used the door in the north corner to exit from the parlor to his surrey that would pull up under the canopy.

The Kitchen and Related Areas
The old icebox and stove date back to the early 20th century. The light fixture is original to the house. The room west of the kitchen was used as the cook’s room. The pantry cupboards, sink and faucets are original. The old buzzer junction box is still intact. The butler’s pantry is north of the dining room.


The Dowie Bedroom
The Dowie bedroom (east side), where Dr. Dowie died, has been set up as a museum. The roll top desk was used by Dr. Dowie in Chicago. Other items in the room; bookcases with mementos of the Radio Station WCBD, framed mottos made with the hair of Dr. Dowie by his barber, Mr. Federmeyer, a painting of the Shiloh Tabernacle, a photo of Dr. Dowie in his Aaronic Priesthood robe, the police uniforms of Chief Alvin Ruesch and Chief Lloyd DeTienne, a cabinet with the top hats of the early aldermen of the community, and city books of the early days of Zion. The trunk was the property of the Carey family and was brought to Zion from Australia. The brass eagle is part of the lectern from which Dr. Dowie proclaimed himself the “First Apostle”. On a small table is a wood capital that was once suspended from the ceiling of the Zion Tabernacle in Chicago.

The Bathroom
The bathroom was rather unique because, at that time, very few bathrooms had tile walls. The bath fixtures were from Europe. The bath faucet was formed like a winged swan. The toilet has long since been replaced with a modern fixture, but you can see where the old water tank hung from the wall. The sink is a large marble fixture that had sponge baskets arranged on the wall. The circular shower stall is in the corner, but the faucets and curtains have been removed. The footbath is still intact.

The Second Floor Hall
In the cabinet are cookie and candy boxes from the Zion bakery and candy factory. Other items on display were produced by Zion Industries. Please take notice of Dr. Dowie’s traveling secretary that he used on his trip around the world in 1903. It was a gift to Dr. Dowie from the Tobey Furniture Company. An original Zion shield banner hangs above the secretary.

Dr. Dowie’s Study
Dr. Dowie used the room in the southwest corner as his study where he wrote articles, letters, and sermon notes. The large rose upholstered chair on the north wall came from the platform of the old Shiloh Tabernacle. The leather upholstered, high back chair came from the Zion Tabernacle in Chicago. Elder Graves, an associate minister of Dr. Dowie, used the small organ during street meetings. The oak bench under the windows was once the property of Zion State Bank. On a stand near the windows is a set of photos taken by Mole & Thomas depicting various symbolic pictures of Zion and scenes of war personnel. On the east wall are the blueprints of the mansion (never built) that Dr. Dowie planned to build on the high ground west on 32nd Street. In this room is one of the 32 bookcases that was purchased for the mansion. It is eight feet high and Dr. Dowie was only 5 ft. 6 in. tall. The cases were cleverly constructed with what looked like drawers but contained steps that when open allowed Dr. Dowie to reach upper shelves. Various volumes of the old Leaves of Healing are in the bookcase. On the west wall is a large picture of the “Moses Exodus” from Egypt. This picture was purchased in France by Mrs. Dowie and given to friends as a wedding gift. Hanging on the east wall is a photo of the staff of the Zion Department store in 1921. On the north wall hangs a large photograph of the dedication of Zion City on July 14, 1900.

Esther’s Bedroom
In the northwest comer of the second floor is the room that was to be Esther’s, Dr. Dowie’s daughter. She asked her father for a room with a pink fireplace. He granted her wish, however, due to a tragic accident that took her life, she never lived in Shiloh House. The light fixtures in the room are from the Dowie estate.   Several artifacts used by Ellen Lloyd, Zion’s maternity nurse for more than 40 years, are on display. The antique bed and dresser are of the period, but are not original to the house. Esther’s Room was dedicated to the women of Zion.


The Stern’s Apartment
On the east side is the “apartment” of Colonel Stern, Dr. Dowie’s bodyguard, and his wife, who served as Dr. Dowie’s personal secretary. It consisted of a sitting room with a fireplace, bedroom and bathroom. The desk in the alcove came from the first Zion bank. On the dresser is the wedding certificate of the Stern’s signed by Dr. Dowie who performed the ceremony.  Before it was refmished, the paint on the woodwork in this room was so thick you could not see the design on the fireplace. During refinishing, the two carved faces on the fireplace were revealed.
The Darms Library

This small room on the south is currently being used as the library. It was named for Reverend Anton Darms. Records of the Zion’s Woman’s Club are stored here. This room is not open to the public.

Gladstone’s Bedroom
The room in the west comer, which was the bedroom of Gladstone Dowie, son of Dr. and Mrs. Dowie, is now a reading room. On the north wall is a panoramic picture of Zion City taken from a tower in the center of town looking east toward Lake Michigan. No houses are visible, just Sand Ridge Road, which is now Sheridan Road. Scrapbooks donated by News Sun sports writer Dan Lablaw are on display as well as scrapbooks of early Zion donated by Ford Wilson.

The Lace Room
Originally, the room in the northwest corner was used as a guest room. Today, the room is dedicated to Zion lace. The room is adorned with many samples of lace woven at the Zion Lace Factory. Photos are of early workers in the lace mills. Displayed in the box on the table are tools used by a lace worker. The dresser on the north wall belonged to the family of Dr. Dowie’s coachman, the Johnstons.

The Servants’ Quarters
These rooms are not on the tour as they are occupied by a renter. It is interesting to note that the servants’ quarters are patterned after those in Europe being one half story lower than the rooms of the “master” of the house.
Please return to the first floor and exit through the front door.

If you are interested in a brief history of the house, one is available at no charge. Books on the life and sermons of Dr. Dowie are offered for sale. Notecards depicting scenes of Shiloh House and other souvenirs are also available. Please see the attendant.

Thank you for visiting historic Shiloh House.

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