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Ronald Reagan Birthplace: Tampico, Illinois Part 2 February 6, 2008

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

Today, Ronald Reagan was born in 1911. I have said before I am not a Republican nor a Reagan fan, but it is significant history for northern Illinois and needs to be talked about. Today we see the Ronald Reagan Birthplace building. He was born in the second floor apartment of a commercial building in downtown Tampico, Illinois.

1896 Graham Building (center) – Ronald Reagan’s Birthplace

The building was constructed in 1896 and became known as the Graham Building. From 1896-1915 the building housed a tavern and in 1906 Jack Reagan moved his family into the second floor apartment. While they lived there Jack and Nelle Reagan had two sons, John Neil in 1906 and Ronald in 1911.

The Reagan’s lived in the second floor apartment. For a case of pareidolia, notice the apparition in the window, who could that be?

From 1915-1919 the structure housed a bakery and from 1919-1931 a bank, First National Bank. Today the first and second floor have been restored. The first floor is a spot-on recreation of a 1920s bank that incorporates original elements from the building’s stint as a bank, such as the vault. The second floor is done as a period apartment from the era when the Reagan’s occupied the space. Interestingly, the apartment features a skylight in the center of its main room and is decorated to the period when the Reagans lived there, although none of the original Reagan furnishings are there.

The Graham Building matches up with the harmony of the rest of the district

The building is very similar to the other structures in the Main Street Historic District. It is two stories with three upper floor, flat-headed windows. The Graham Building also has a metal cornice which closely matches the cornice lines of the adjacent structures, contributing to the overall architectural harmony of the historic district.

When I went it was July, 105 degrees, and the woman inside, a volunteer, seemed truly glad to see me. In fact she chased me down on the hot street. Initially, when I tugged at the door, I couldn’t get it to open, I think she thought I was inept but it really wouldn’t open. But she came outside to get me, eventually she gave me a free tour of the bank, the apartment and told me numerous tales about the Reagan family. Even recalling when Ronald Reagan actually visited the birthplace during the 1980s or 1990s or some such. It was very interesting and for her kindness I bought a magnet and donated five dollars to the museum.

Other Reagan Posts
*In the days leading up to today I have posted information and photos of three other Reagan landmarks in Illinois – Lowell Park, Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home, Tampico Main Street Historic District

Online Resources
*Wikipedia: Ronald Reagan Birthplace (by me)
*Ronald Reagan Birthplace: Illinois Historic Sites Survey Inventory Form
*Ronald Reagan Birthplace: Old photo (NRHP archives) – 1981
*Main Street Historic District: National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form
*Pareidolia: My favorite down to Earth (pun intended) blogger.

This is the last post on Reagan, I am almost suffering from overload. Join us tomorrow as we return to Sycamore for high-style Italianate.


1. RoadDog - February 15, 2008

We drove by this place back in January returning from eagle watching along the Mississippi.

We kept looking for it at ground level and finally stopped at a gas station and found the sign was onthe second floor.

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