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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.
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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

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Main Street Historic District: Tampico, Illinois February 5, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in Architecture, History, National Register of Historic Places.
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Before the Reagans came to Dixon they lived in the Whiteside County, Illinois village of Tampico. In fact, Ronald Reagan (40th U.S. President) was born there on February 6, 1911 (more on that tomorrow). The area around the apartment where Reagan was born is a historic district, listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.


Main Street Historic District – Downtown Tampico, Illinois

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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.
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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

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Breaking the monotony February 3, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in Writing.
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To break up the monotony of my architecture posts (I hope you aren’t too bored with them, I love the stuff) I present to you a story I wrote for a short, short fiction contest. I never entered it because I have the guts of a snail sometimes. Thanks for reading.

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Lowell Park: Dixon, Illinois February 3, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in Architecture, History, Houses, National Register of Historic Places.
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Lots of people know that Ronald Reagan grew up in Dixon, Illinois. His boyhood home is part of a declared National Historic Site (more on that tomorrow). Some people know the tales of Reagan saving 77 people from drowning while working as a lifeguard. Fewer probably know where he worked as a lifeguard at, and fewer still know anything about the place. At least that’s my take. Today I share with you Lowell Park in Dixon, Illinois.


National Register plaque, Lowell Park

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Stephen Wright House: Paw Paw, Illinois February 2, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in Architecture, Houses, National Register of Historic Places.
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Before we get to the Reagan landmarks in Dixon we stop in Paw Paw, Illinois, a small village many of you have probably passed on Interstate 39, you know you are there when you see the windmills on the horizon. Before 2005 the 850 person village of Paw Paw had no properties included on the federal National Register of Historic Places. The listing of the Stephen Wright House changed that in May of that year.


When the windmills appear, Paw Paw is near

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Carlos Lattin House: Sycamore, Illinois Part 5 February 1, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in Architecture, History, Houses, National Register of Historic Places.
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Carlos Lattin was the first permanent settler in the DeKalb county seat of Sycamore, Illinois. Lattin arrived in Sycamore in 1835 and constructed a log cabin near the site of present-day downtown Sycamore, just north of Downtown Shoes, at 307 S. State St. (Illinois 64). The site is marked by a plaque at that address.


Plaque marking spot of Sycamore’s first cabin

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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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