Tremont House

City: Chicago

County: Cook

State: Illlinois

The Tremont House was a hotel in Chicago, Illinois. Alanson Sweet constructed the first Tremont House, situated on the northwest corner of Lake and Dearborn streets. Sweet operated it as a saloon and boarding house. Ira and James Couch purchased the property, and Ira ran the property as a hotel. Ira Couch managed the property until 1836, when James took over operations. James Couch was manager until October 1839, when the first hotel burned down. In December 1839, construction began on a new building on the southeast corner of Lake and Dearborn, and the new building opened to guests in May 1840. The Tremont House became one of Chicago’s leading hotels, operating profitably until July 1849, when fire again destroyed the building. The Couch brothers again rebuilt, and a new brick hotel opened in October 1850. In 1853, David A. and George W. Gage became the proprietors, and in 1855, John Drake joined the ownership group, and the firm of Gage Brothers & Drake operated the hotel up to the Civil War. In 1858, Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas announced their candidacy for the U.S. Senate from the Tremont House, and it was the headquarters of Abraham Lincoln’s campaign managers during the Republican National Convention in 1860.

A. T. Andreas, History of Chicago (Chicago: A. T. Andreas, 1884), 1:635; Jane Simon Ammeson, Lincoln Road Trip: The Back-Roads Guide to America’s Favorite President (Bloomington, IN: Red Lightning Books, 2019), 186; Arnie Bernstein, The Hoofs and Guns of the Storm: Chicago’s Civil War Connections (Chicago: Lake Claremont Press, 2003), 30.