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Lunt, Orrington, 1815-1897



  • Existence: 1815 - 1897


Orrington Lunt was born on December 24th, 1815 to William and Anne Matilda Lunt in Bowdoinham, Maine. When Orrington was 21 his father took him into partnership as a lawyer, and when his father retired not long after, Orrington and his brother continued the business.

On January 16th, 1842, Orrington married Cornelia A. Gray, and on November 11th, 1842 the couple headed west to Chicago for a change of pace and opportunity. Orrington then began his career as a commission merchant, making a fortune in the grain trade, and subsequently real estate and life insurance.

Orrington Lunt joined John Evans in the purchase of land and the granting of a charter for Northwestern University in 1851. For a time he was the Treasurer of the Board of Trustees, and he served for years as a member of the auditing committee. In 1875 he became Vice-President until 1895, when he accepted the Presidency of the Board of Trustees.

In 1871 Lunt’s home burned down in the Great Chicago Fire, and after working closely with the Relief and Aid Society to help restore the damage to Chicago, he moved to Evanston in 1874. In 1892 Lunt donated $50,000 dollars to Northwestern University for the purpose of building a new, fireproof library, The Lunt Library, now called Lunt Hall. In 1894 the library was completed, and a large ceremony was held to dedicate the library on September 26th, 1894.

On January 16, 1892, the town of Evanston came together to celebrate Orrington and Cornelia’s 50th wedding anniversary. This was an important event in Evanston, and many people used the opportunity to celebrate the life of Orrington Lunt.

Orrington Lunt passed away on April 5, 1897, and his funeral took place at the First Methodist Church of Evanston. He was buried at the Rosehill Cemetery in Chicago.

Found in 2 Collections and/or Records:

Cornelia Gray Lunt (1843-1934) Papers

Identifier: 1/11
Abstract The Cornelia Gray Lunt Papers include a variety of scattered miscellaneous materials from 1866 to 1964. They are arranged in four main categories including biographical materials, correspondence, writings, and bound volumes. The bound volumes include descriptions of her travels in Europe and the Middle East. In addition she often transcribed letters to and from herself in her journals. The fifth volume includes an undated fictional piece entitled, “Romance, One Winter. The History of a...
Dates: 1866-1964

Orrington Lunt Papers

Identifier: 1/16

Orrington Lunt was one of the founders of Northwestern University, served on its Board of Trustees, and subsidized the building of Lunt Library, now Lunt Hall. The Orrington Lunt Papers fill one and one-half boxes spanning the years 1865 to 1897, with scattered documents through 1988. Biographical and obituary/memorials files make up the bulk of the material, which also includes a small amount of correspondence, personal journals, and records broadly relating to Lunt’s life.

Dates: 1865-1988