Edward Hegeler was an immigrant from Germany. He came to the United States in 1856. He was joined by a friend Frederick Matthiesen. Together they formed the Matthiessen and Hegeler Zinc Company in LaSalle, Illinois. They choose this location because of its proximity to coal deposits used in furnaces in zinc smelting. The ore was from deposits in Wisconsin. These were easily transported by rail to LaSalle. This zinc refining company was the largest in the United States from 1880 to 2010.
In 1860, Edward married his wife Camilla. They raised 8 children in their home that was later known as the Hegeler Carus Mansion.
This mansion is located at 1307 7th Avenue in LaSalle. The architect was William Boyington (he was also the architect of the Chicago Water Tower). The interior designs were the work of August Fiedler. It was constructed in 1874. The Hegeler family moved in 1876.
There are 57 rooms. There are 7 levels. Square footage is 16,000. There is a horse shoe shaped stair case at the main entrance. There is a three sided wrap around porch. Due to its local availability, the metal work is zinc. The outside walls are brick overlaid by stucco. Other distinctive features included: dormer windows, molded cornices, decorative brackets. The roof is mansard style–2 slopes on each of its four sides. There is a tower with a 30 foot cupola.
The mansion is on National Register of Historic Places; it has National Historic Landmark Status.
An interesting fact about the mansion is that Edward Hegeler established a publishing company–Open Court. This was in 1888. The headquarters of this company were on the ground floor of the mansion for 80 years. Shortly after establishing the firm, Edward retained Dr. Paul Carus to be the managing editor. The goal of the publishing company was to provide a forum for discussions of philosophy, science, religion and to make the classics more widely available. It published books and two periodicals–Open Court and Monist. Dr. Carus himself was responsible for 75 books and 1500 articles. Carus married Mary Hegeler
and they raised six of their own children in the mansion.
The Hegeler Carus presence is still felt in LaSalle. In 1915, Edward Carus Hegeler founded the Carus Chemical Company. To this day, this firm is managed by the family.
Excellent photos of the mansion can be found in the book Patina of Time by Steve Archer.