The Ewing residence originally belonged to Davis and Hazle Buck Ewing. The residence was built between 1928 to 1929 after the couple returned from a trip around the world. This year-long trip was the inspiration of many of designs in the residence.
The couple hired the John Felmey Company as their contractor. It took the construction workers more than a year to build this $178,000 residence. The residence featured limestone from Wisconsin and the nearby town Joliet, hand-hewn timbers, and bricks from an abandoned local brewery.
The local architect Phil Hooten was hired to design this Channel-Normal style residence. This was an architectural style favored by the affluent during the post-Victorian period. Phil Hooten's design reflects Hazle Buck Ewing's naturalistic tastes and views.
The surrounding gardens were built by noted landscape architect Jens Jensen. This is the architect that also designed the Lincoln Memorial Gardens in Springfield. The curving pathways for the residence provided views of both sunrise and sunset, thus, the residence was named Sunset Hill. The Moriyama Japanese Garden was built in 1982, and the Genevieve Green Gardens were installed in 2007.
After the couple divorced, Hazle Buck Ewing continued living here until she passed away in 1969. She bequeathed the residence to the Illinois State University Foundation, and required that the residence should function as a center for promoting intercultural understanding.