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Illinois State Police Office: Pontiac, Illinois Part 2 January 31, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in Architecture, History, National Register of Historic Places, U.S. Route 66.
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Just south of Pontiac on Old U.S. Route 66 is an Illinois State Police Office, now abandoned, that was built during World War II and served as the Illinois State Police District 6 headquarters until it was vacated in 2004. The Art Moderne (closely related to Art Deco) building gives off a sleek, streamlined look through its use of glass bricks, curved corners and smooth surfaces.


1941 Illinois State Police Office – Pontiac

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U.S. Route 66: Pontiac, Illinois January 30, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in Architecture, Courthouses, History, National Register of Historic Places, U.S. Route 66.
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Leaving Dwight and Odell you next come to Pontiac along the historic stretch of Route 66, there are a couple old cafes to see for hardcore enthusiasts, but I went straight for the architecture along the route, and anyone who goes should see these sites.

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Pioneer Gothic Church and a train station: Dwight Illinois Part 4 January 29, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in Architecture, Churches, National Register of Historic Places.
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We looked at the small village of Dwight, Illinois more than a week ago, there are two more National Register listed sites in the community that we have yet to discuss; though, there are other sites in Dwight worth seeing as well.

The Pioneer Gothic Church is a high-style example of Carpenter Gothic Revival style. Good examples of the style are even more scarce because the 1857 church, like many examples of Carpenter Gothic, is constructed entirely from wood. Fires were common during this era, in fact, Dwight suffered four major fires during the period 1869-1891.


1857 Pioneer Gothic Church

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J.H. Rogers, Four Square and the Bettis House: Sycamore, Illinois Part 4 January 28, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in Architecture, Houses, National Register of Historic Places, Prairie style.
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Next door to yesterday’s David Syme House is the J.H. Rogers House, a peculiar blend of Queen Anne and Romanesque Revival styles. It has the obvious turret of a Queen Anne home while also having prominent Romanesque arches. The home was built in 1890 for Rogers, a respected dry goods merchant who settled in Sycamore in 1858.


1890 J.H. Rogers House

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David Syme House: Sycamore, Illinois Part 3 January 27, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in Architecture, Houses, National Register of Historic Places.
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If you find yourself in Sycamore, Illinois with nothing to do, more specifically if you find yourself in the 800 block of Somonauk Street in Sycamore, undoubtedly viewing the Chauncey Ellwood House and Esther Mae Nesbitt House, you could walk south. Walk until you hit the 400 block. At 420 Somonauk is the stately David Syme House. It’s a Queen Anne style home that is part of a group known as “painted ladies” (wiki-not the greatest but good enough).


Circa 1880 David Syme House

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Esther Mae Nesbitt House: Sycamore, Illinois Part 2 January 26, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in Architecture, Houses, National Register of Historic Places.
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You don’t have to travel far from the Chauncey Ellwood House in Sycamore, Illinois to locate the subject of this post, it’s right next door, at 825 Somonauk Street. The Esther Mae Nesbitt House, another member of the Sycamore Historic District, has its origins back in 1837, as a carriage house for the subject of yesterday’s post, the Chauncey Ellwood House.


1837 Esther Mae Nesbitt House

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Chauncey Ellwood House: Sycamore, Illinois January 25, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in Architecture, Houses, National Register of Historic Places.
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Coming back, closer to home (at least for me), we travel into the frigid cold in the small city of Sycamore, the county seat of DeKalb County, Illinois. Sycamore is a quaint town, very nice, about 14,000 people reside there and it has an extensive historic district, known simply as the Sycamore Historic District. The area is especially pleasing in the deep of winter when several inches of fresh snow are on the ground. The historic district includes the downtown business strip on Route 64 and key residential structures north and south of downtown, over 200 properties in all. While there are several large, ornate government buildings, including a courthouse and a library, the real gems are the houses.


1859 Chauncey Ellwood House

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Buffalo Grove and the Black Hawk War: Polo, Illinois Part 3 January 24, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in Black Hawk War, History.
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Illinois was a very different place in 1832, open, sparsely settled, and filled with fear. That year the Sauk chief Black Hawk made an incursion into Illinois in violation of what he saw as unfair treaties. The incident sparked a war that ended in tragedy throughout northern Illinois and present-day southern Wisconsin (then Michigan Territory). I researched and composed most of the extensive material on Wikipedia concerning the Black Hawk War, I put a lot of energy into it’s accuracy and referencing.

There were numerous attacks, ambushes and massacres during the war and the action spread into the area known as Buffalo Grove, which is near present day Polo, Illinois.


Photo by Rattis irrittis of Wikipedia, copyright: GFDL, CC 2.5, 2.0, 1.0

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Buffalo Grove Lime Kiln: Polo, Illinois Part 2 January 23, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in History, National Register of Historic Places.
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Just outside of the small Ogle County, Illinois city of Polo, if one pays enough attention, there is an immaculate, and restored, 19th century lime kiln. Lime once had many uses, including building mortars, lime was used in the mortars of many of the ancient civilizations. Worldwide, relics of this era dot the countryside and just outside of Polo is a fine example of an 1870s perpetual lime kiln.

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Librarians and houses: Polo, Illinois January 22, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in Architecture, Houses, National Register of Historic Places, Prairie style.
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Polo, Illinois is a small city of about 2,500 in Ogle County, a county whose largest settlement has less than 10,000 people. The rural communities in Ogle County are astounding and filled with history, art and architecture, if you know where to look. Armed with a list of sites in Polo from the National Register of Historic Places, I started looking at the Polo Public Library – a building that is one of five in Polo that share that status.


Buffalo Township Public Library (aka Polo Public Library)

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A.O. Anderson House: DeKalb, Illinois January 21, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in Architecture, Houses, Prairie style.
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DeKalb has several prominent historic homes but the Anderson House may be one of the least known. The Anderson House is part of a local historic district but doesn’t have federal recognition on the National Register yet, I am hoping to alleviate this. The house is commonly mistaken for a Frank Lloyd Wright work, but it’s not.

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Lampert-Wildflower House: Belvidere, Illinois Part 4 January 20, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in Architecture, Houses, National Register of Historic Places.
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The 1838 Lampert-Wildflower House in Belvidere, Illinois, while not as architecturally impressive as, say, Frank Lloyd Wright’s work, is still a fine example of the building style known as “upright and wing“. The fairly common style refers to the nature of the building, which consists of a 2 story “upright” section and wing, or “ell” (wiki). The upright portion of this house was 1838 original, the ell was added during the 1860s.

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U.S. Route 66: Cayuga to Chenoa, Illinois January 19, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in History, National Register of Historic Places, U.S. Route 66.
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The 18.2 mile section of U.S Route 66 roadbed from the southwest corner of Odell Township to just north of Chenoa, Illinois, is one of several in the state listed on the National Register of Historic Places. We have taken a look at some of the structures that line The Mother Road over the past few days but the road itself holds important historic significance. This stretch goes through Pontiac, Illinois (home to a state correctional facility I once toured as a wee lad), but before you get to Pontiac, there’s The Mother Road.

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U.S. Route 66: Odell, Illinois January 18, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in Architecture, History, National Register of Historic Places, U.S. Route 66.
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It took me a minute to find it, the treasure that was off the beaten path in Odell. Odell is a small village south of Dwight along Old U.S. Route 66. Like Dwight, Odell is home to a fully restored house and canopy style gas station of an era when Route 66 meant a special kind of freedom. I absolutely loved this building, its shingled surface, contrasting blue and white paint and restored interior all brought the smell of petrol and burnt rubber wafting into my nostrils.

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Keeley Institute: Dwight, Illinois Part 3 January 17, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in Architecture, History, Houses, National Register of Historic Places.
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Dwight has an interesting history, if you take the time to do the research about it. But don’t worry, you don’t have to, I did it for you (and luckily compiled most of it on Wikipedia which will be linked to gratuitously throughout this posts.

Dwight has been called America’s first therapeutic community, because of Dr. Leslie Keeley and John R. Oughton and their famed Keeley Institute. The Keeley Cure (wiki by me, thoroughly researched like all I do, yet not completely finished) was globally famous as a “scientific” treatment for alcoholism, groundbreaking at the time, and more than a bit odd in hindsight. The Keeley Cure involved “bichloride of gold”, and the jury is still out on what, exactly, that was. There are a few buildings associated with the Keeley Institute still extant in Dwight, among them, the John R. Oughton House (wiki by me), which served as housing for Keeley Institute patients.


The Oughton Estate’s restored windmill is owned by the Village of Dwight.

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Frank L. Smith Bank: Dwight, Illinois Part 2 January 16, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in Architecture, Frank Lloyd Wright, Prairie style.
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Frank Lloyd Wright designed his many buildings mostly in the United States, and they were mostly residential in nature. However, he left his mark on other types of buildings as well, arguably his most famous work is the Guggenheim Museum in New York, a decidedly non-residential building.

In the Livingston County, Illinois village of Dwight, is a little known example of Wright’s mastery, tucked into a storefront setting in the tiny village’s downtown business district, the 1905 Frank L. Smith (aka First National) Bank.


1905 Frank L. Smith Bank

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U.S. Route 66: Dwight, Illinois January 15, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in Architecture, History, National Register of Historic Places, U.S. Route 66.
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We’ll get back to the extreme northern fringes of Illinois, including Belvidere, soon, for now we must jaunt southward, along Illinois 47 until we hit Livingston County, a place where we can get our kicks.

Route 66 through Illinois, St. Louis to Chicago — The Mother Road. I wrote up a bit for Wikipedia on this topic too, but I left it unfinished, you will find the link at the bottom of this page with several other useful resources. The topic of Route 66 likely conjures all sorts of imagery in your mind. But it needn’t remain melded to your brain, no! It can be seen, just a short drive from the stateline area. Livingston County is a great spot to see it, in all its glory. The communities of Dwight and Pontiac are particular gems. Other communites, such as Odell have their qualities too, and the wonders don’t cease at the Livingston-McLean County line. I doubt this can be covered in just one post, there are buildings and roads to discuss. Onward! Follow me on a little journey I took.
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U.S. Post Office: Belvidere, Illinois Part 3 January 14, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in Architecture, National Register of Historic Places, Post Offices.
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At 200 South State Street in Belvidere, Illinois is the community’s United States Post Office Building. This Classical Revival structure is a beauty, incorporating many key elements of the style. The building stands on its own block, dominating and important in its mission to bring communication to the masses.

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Boone County Courthouse: Belvidere, Illinois Part 2 January 13, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in Architecture, Courthouses.
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If you leave the Belvidere Cemetery and travel down Main Street you will come to the original Boone County Courthouse. Unlike the Wright building detailed yesterday, the Boone County Courthouse does not hold the status of listing on the National Register of Historic Places. But it is still a historic structure and a fine example of Italianate architecture. (Wiki warning: article not by me but not horrible).

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Pettit Chapel: Belvidere, Illinois January 12, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in Architecture, Frank Lloyd Wright, National Register of Historic Places, Prairie style.
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Okay, enough of the politics nonsense. On, to hidden wonders, and not so hidden wonders, right in my own back yard.

Below is an image of the Pettit Memorial Chapel in Belvidere, Illinois. Belvidere is the county seat of Boone County. The chapel was designed by master architect Frank Lloyd Wright as a memorial for Dr. William Pettit. You can learn about the history and architecture of the structure in the chapel’s Wikipedia entry, which I wrote.


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