Kenwood, and the Judd property, had many associations with Abraham Lincoln. Like many other early residents of the neighborhood, Norman Buel Judd came west from New York to settle in Chicago. He arrived in the fall of 1836 and over the years became involved in politics on the state and national level. While a member of the Illinois senate from 1844 to 1860, he maintained a large legal practice and specialized in railroad law, and became attorney for the Illinois Central Railroad. In 1858, Judd arranged for the celebrated debates between Lincoln and Stephen Douglas, and as a member of the Republican National Committee, in 1860 he nominated Lincoln as their candidate for president.
Adeline Judd recalled a visit by Lincoln to their Kenwood home in September 1857. “Mr. Judd had invited Mr. Lincoln to spend the evening at our pleasant home on the shore of Lake Michigan. After tea, and until quite late, we sat on the broad piazza, looking out upon as lovely a scene as that which had made the Bay of Naples so celebrated. … Mr. Lincoln, whose home was far inland from the great lakes, seemed greatly impressed with the wondrous beauty of the scene, and carried by its impressiveness away from all thought of the jars and turmoil of earth.”
Evidently Mrs. Lincoln did not share her husband’s affection for Judd. When it appeared Judd would receive a position in her husband’s cabinet she interceded, writing to David Davis in January 1861, “I know, a word from you, will have much effect, for the good of the country, and Mr. Lincoln’s future reputation, I believe you will speak to him on this subject and urge him not to give him so responsible a place. It is strange, how little delicacy those Chicago men have.”