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Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home: Dixon, Illinois Part 2 February 4, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in Architecture, History, Houses, National Register of Historic Places.

Ronald Reagan grew up and went to high school in Dixon, Illinois. His family lived in a house on Hennepin Avenue (now Reagan Way) that gained federal recognition, first as a listing on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982, and then as a National Historic Site in 2002. While the building has been declared a National Historic Site, ownership has not been handed over to the National Park Service, a necessary step in its evolution to the new status. You will soon know why.

Plaque at Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home

The house is a simple Queen Anne style home, not unlike Paw Paw’s Stephen Wright House. Again, we see the hip roof with cross gables. The house was constructed in 1891 and the Reagan’s lived in it from 1920 until 1923 when they moved to the other side of the Rock River and occupied the home at 318 W. Everett (now 348).

1891 – Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home

The Reagan Boyhood Home was officially declared a National Historic Site in 2002 with the passage of Public Law 107-137. But the designation is not yet complete. One year after the designation was made, the federal government offered the Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home Foundation only $420,000 for the home which they had put much energy and money into restoring and keeping up. The fair market value, according to the foundation, was several million dollars. The chairman of the foundation called the offer “insulting”. Nothing I can find indicates the government ever purchased it. In fact, the last word I could find indicated it may not become a National Historic Site.

Eight-foot, bronze, kernel-gazing Reagan

Also on the property is an eight foot bronze statue of Reagan, which really isn’t the greatest statue I have ever seen. It looks like him and everything, that’s not the problem. The problem is what he is doing, they have him staring in awe at a handful of corn kernels like a child. I guess, but it just doesn’t seem like the immortal Reagan moment for a statue at his boyhood home.

From the flank, on a stormy day

The Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home is open for tours, according to this information. Current admission is just $3, under 12 is free.

Online Resources
*Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home: Old photos (NRHP archives) – 1981 – 1, 2
*Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home: Official site
*Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home: National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form
*Dixon, Illinois: USA Today article about town and Reagan

There’s more to see in Dixon, we will be back. Our journey continues in Reagan’s stomping grounds for the first nine years of his life. Stay tuned.


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