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U.S. Route 66: Chenoa, Illinois February 20, 2008

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

After spending so much time near Chicago I thought it would be nice to return to the downstate calm of Old U.S. Route 66. Just north of the city of Chenoa, Illinois, the historic section of U.S. Route 66 that is listed on the National Register Historic Places ends, but the road continues southward, toward Bloomington. Coming from Pontiac, we first hit Chenoa, in northern McLean County.

Chenoa, Illinois, in northern McLean County

Chenoa is a small city of about 2,000 in the far fringes of northern McLean County. The quaint downtown, practically a ghost town the day I went (St. Patrick’s Day — so the explanation for the deserted feel is obvious), has been lucky enough to have some care put into it, it shows just by looking. Some of the buildings exhibit the architectural harmony we saw in Tampico’s Main Street Historic District.

Downtown Chenoa

A period advertisement has been repainted on the leading edge of one of the structures, definitely adding to the character of the area. Absent cars and people, I really did feel like I was almost standing in a 19th century small town; if only the roads weren’t paved.

Selz Royal Blue Shoes advertisement

Though the entire stretch of Old U.S. 66 through Illinois is a declared National Scenic Byway, the only site listed on the National Register in Chenoa is an unaffiliated house; the Matthew T. Scott House.

The 1855 & 1863 Matthew T. Scott House

The Scott House was built in two phases and thus, exhibits two distinct architectural styles. The 1855 rear portion is a post and beam (wiki) I-cottage, something a crazy person was so completely wrong about on Wikipedia that I am not even going to bother linking the article here. The front portion was constructed in 1863 and is a true balloon framed (wiki) example of an I-house.

Both sections are visible in the above image

Matthew T. Scott was an important figure in early McLean County is known as the founder of the Chenoa. He was one of the area’s first settlers and farmers, and actively encouraged settlement in the area. The house appears today, much as it did in a 1910 photograph, you can see that linked below. The Scott House was added to the National Register of Historic Places in early 1983.

Online Resources
*Matthew T. Scott House: National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form (PDF)
*Matthew T. Scott House: Old Photographs – 1910; 1982: 1, 2, 3, 4, Interior (during renovation)


1. RoadDog - February 22, 2008

Another great Route 66 town. The Chenoa Restaurant is an excellent place to eat at.

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