When taking his seat as Evanston’s inaugural village president, Charles J. Gilbert didn’t fool around. In his first meeting, in 1874, he called for establishing a board of health. And in a bid to keep folks from falling ill from tainted wells, he soon pushed for a modern water treatment plant on the lakefront. When it came to building himself a house, this successful grain merchant had just as much foresight. He laid out $25,000 — roughly $700,000 in today’s dollars — for a classical mansion, complete with towering Corinthian columns and an oh-so-social ballroom.

The library of the Evanston mansion

Years later, the house was home to language maven Josephine Turck Baker, who founded the International Society for Universal English and published the magazine Correct English. Now on the market at $1.899 million, the residence sits on a three-quarter-acre lot at 1812 Asbury Avenue, six blocks from the Davis Street Metra station. At nearly 10,000 square feet, the mansion is impressive, not only for its roominess (seven bedrooms, four and a half baths) but for the quality of the space, most notably the massive double parlor on the ground floor, 40 feet long with 14-foot ceilings. All the public rooms have a fireplace, as does the primary bedroom, which measures 22 by 19 feet, not including its attached bath.

A bedroom in the Evanston mansion

The formal dining room is graced with a large leaded-glass window, and the commodious family room with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. The third-floor ballroom is long gone, but in its place are a playroom, living room, small kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom. In addition to a good-size yard equipped with a built-in sprinkler system, the house features an expansive brick terrace outside the front door, and an equally large covered balcony running the length of the second floor. It is indeed a house fit for a president.