Dobe Estate


Tucked away in Arbor Vista Association memorabilia was an article written about the Dobe Estate. Arbor Vista subdivision is situated on what was once this magnificent estate. The estate house, gatehouse and carriage house still grace our area.


The 200 acres of planted forests were crisscrossed with riding trails and stepping stone walkways. Two gardeners invested 34 years in developing and maintaining the grounds. Their quarters, the Gatehouse, was the envy of their peers. 50,000 Elm trees were planted on the bare cropland. The nearby estate grounds boasted 125 varieties of trees.

The main house vas built in 1925 and designed by Chicago architect Norman W. Cook. Furnishings were collected from around the world to fill the Mediterranean Villa.

At its zenith in the 1930s, the staff included the gardeners , 3 houseboys, a maid, chauffeur and groom. Pheasants were reared near the stable, and pedigreed dogs had the run of the grounds. A 16 cylinder Cadillac was on call .

A stone bridge and a dam created a small lake nearby, and a pond and fountain were fed by their own wells. Evergreens were planted along the state highway.

Fredrick and Mary Dobe wanted space and beauty in their lives. He had immigrated from Germany to Chicago "at 17 with 17 cents" and soon mastered financial success in America. His Fredrick Dobe School of Industrial Design became a leading correspondence school of the day. He was later to move its main office onto the estate at the corner of Pine and Arbor. He closed that enterprise in 1948, to semi—retire and to attend to his other investments, primarily real estate. Between 1932 and 1948, Dobe established a Tree Farm, selling and istalling plant materials.

In 1957, Dobe sold the bulk of the acreage for subdivision. Bartlett started development in 1960, and now many families enjoy the "arbored vista" of Fredrick Dobe's countryside dream.

Dobe passes away in 1960, and Mary followed within four months . Their single daughter, Johanna, remained at the estate until her death in 1968 at the age of 72. While she lived, the grounds and house were impeccably maintained . She bequeathed the estate to Northwestern University, who sold it in late 1969 to the Sedol School System. The furnishings were sold at auction, and the golden era of the estate life ended.