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Virtually unaltered since its completion more than a century ago, the 57 room Mansion, built in 1874, is an example of high artistic achievement in architecture and interior design, and the site of historic accomplishments in industry, philosophy, publishing and religion. National Historic Landmark.
Experience the history of the second of the famous debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas. Its was at this site on August 27, 1858 that the Freeport Doctrine, an important statement regarding slavery and state's rights, was proclaimed by Douglas. Although Douglas won the Senatorial campaign for which the debate was held, his statements lost him the support of the South and split the Democratic Party. This enabled Lincoln to win the Presidency in 1860, thus precipitating the Civil War. The site is self-interpretive through a series of waysides that tell of the events and ideas which led up to the debates, and also includes a boulder and plaque dedicated by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1903, as well as the life-size statues "Lincoln and Douglas in Debate" by artist Lily Tolpo which was dedicated in 1992. The park-like setting is complete with benches, lighting, and spacious walks.
Foundation Forward, Inc., dedicated the Charters of Freedom monuments to the people of Morgan County on May 30, 2015. The monuments display the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Bill of Rights as they are displayed at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. Set in limestone with beautifully etched bronze plates, the monuments bring the experience of viewing our nation's most important documents to life.
From 1908 to 1940, Sears Roebuck and Company ordered, manufactured and sold homes to hundreds of thousands of Americans. Sears homes were popular in the railroad community of Aurora, which boasts 136 authenticated properties, making Aurora one of the largest concentrations of Sears homes in the country. Take the tour - stop by the literature center at 43 W. Galena Blvd. or download an entire list of Sears Homes from the City's web site.
Enjoy a self-guided driving tour of Aurora’s historic districts. Go back in time to Pre-Civil War era when Illinois' second largest city was being formed. Visit the Roundhouse, Stolp Island, Central Fire Station, Auto-Row, the house made of coal and much more. Online tour information available by clicking the link to the City of Aurora's Historic Preservation page of the City's web site.
Leland Tower is a twenty-two story tall building located on Stolp Island in Aurora, Illinois. Leland Tower was at one point the tallest building in Illinois outside of Chicago. Stolp Island is recognized as a Historical District by the National Register of Historical Places. Leland Tower was at one time the tallest building in the world, and dominates the downtown of Aurora, dwarfing all the other buildings located there. The tower was built initially as a hotel. The Leland Hotel project was conceived in 1926 and was one of the most ambitious projects in the city's history. The project was announced by an organization known as the Aurora Building Corporation through Herbert P. Heiss of the First Illinois Company. Mr. Heiss had located and purchased the site for the proposed hotel. The building contract was awarded to the H.G. Chtistman Company, general contractors of South Bend, Indiana and Detroit, Michigan. Anker Sveere Graven and Arthur Guy Mayger were chosen to design the hotel which was planned to be one of the grandest buildings outside of Chicago.
Victorian Italianate structure opened in 1964 that towers proudly over the Fox River and the City of Yorkville. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Olde Courthouse Gallery graces the main hall with shows featuring the work of artists from Kendall County and beyond. Laws of Nature exhibit focuses on the natural resources of the county. Tours available.
The Aurora Elks Lodge No. 705 is a Mayan style building on Stolp Island in Aurora, Illinois. It is included in the Stolp Island Historic District. The building was built in 1926 and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. (Re-development planning in process.)
The original 1893 schoolhouse displays hundreds of original artifacts depicting immigrant turn-of-the-century life of families, businesses, and coal mines. Original items include the jailhouse iron doors, soccer trophies and bocce balls, coal mining tools, furniture and household items, old store supplies, Illinois coal reports, maps and plats, and plenty of family memories; there is something to interest everyone.
This CD-based audio tour presents President Lincoln as a returning visitor, talking about the places he visited and their meaning to him. Whether you drive the route or enjoy the tour from your favorite armchair, the audio tour is a special and novel way to learn about the history of Lincoln and the role Bloomington-Normal played in his life. The CD can be purchased at the McLean County Museum of History
Located in Uptown Normal, the Normal Theater originally opened in 1937 and was the first movie theater in Bloomington-Normal built specifically for sound films. An Art Deco showplace built with streamline design, the Normal Theater has been completely restored to its original condition. It now operates as a film center, showing classic films on the big screen as well as independent and world cinema titles. In addition, the theater is used for a wide variety of non-film events and is available for rentals where assembly seating is required.
The fascinating history of the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts comes to life in the Behind the Curtain historic tour program. Led by a group of specially trained docents, you'll not only see the beautiful neo-Classical interior design of the BCPA, but also learn all about the many technical and patron service updates achieved in the building's significant renovation. You won't want to miss this surprising, fascinating, and fun-filled look at one of Bloomington's historic and most thriving buildings. Bring your stories, your questions, and, above all, your curiosity. Behind the Curtain tours are one hour in length and can accommodate a wide variety of group sizes.
The main source for information about McLean County’s historic and modern attractions in the Bloomington-Normal area is the "Cruisin’ with Lincoln on 66" Visitors Center. Located in Downtown Bloomington, the Visitors Center provides information on all of the wonderful attractions, events, dining and lodging available in McLean County. Their exhibits highlight two types of heritage tourism that is integral to Central Illinois: Historic Route 66 and Abraham Lincoln. The gift shop is filled with local products, memorabilia and more!
Take a look back in history and visit the Steeple building, built in 1854. Architecturally intriguing it is a three-story stucco Greek Revival structure with a two-story tower and 66 six-over-six windows. It was built to be used as a hotel, but instead was used as a dwelling, school, administration building, and later housed a bank, telephone switchboard and apartments. The museum is home to the Bishop Hill Heritage Association offices. The rooms and exhibit showcase historic artifacts and photos of early Colony days and take visitors back through time to a quaint prairie village. Group tours by appointment, small fee. Open Daily 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday Noon to 4 p.m.
DeKalb County Convention & Visitors Bureau Books are available to assist you.
A four-floor large museum located in a former stone mill, including items from the area and a room dedicated to Native America artifacts. A 24' long mural depicts the different eras of Indians and a buffalo hide nearby showing life of an Indian tribe. Built in 1859 as a steam-run flour mill named Sandwich Steam Mill. Open Sundays 1-4 pm from April to October. Tours by appointment.
Explore the heart of America! Follow the Mississippi River as it winds its way along Illinois' western border from Galena to Cairo. Experience over 550 miles of small towns, big cities, historic sites, recreational areas, cultural attractions and museums. Follow the green and white paddle wheel signs as they guide your next adventure!
Dating back to 1855, and built from hand-hewn oak and walnut beams cut from woods along the nearby Fox River, this structure holds the unique distinction of being Kendall County’s oldest church building. With it’s “New England-style” charm, 1899 pipe organ, and original stained glass windows, the Chapel on the Green is one of the most architecturally and historically significant structures in the county. Nestled in the heart of the city’s north side, the Chapel on the Green is located one block west of Route 47 (Bridge Street) at the northeast corner of Church and Center Streets, adjacent to the historic Town Square Park.
An icon of days past, this one-room schoolhouse has been restored by the Emden Historical Society.
This traditional one-story French Creole residence, built circa 1790, is considered to be one of the oldest surviving residences in Illinois.
Pleasant Home is an architectural gem that showcases 19th century craftsmanship and artistry. Designed in 1897 by prominent architect George W. Maher, the home is a National Historic Landmark and the only Maher building open to the public as a museum. You and your guests will be surrounded by rich custom woodwork, extraordinary art glass windows, intricate woodcarvings, and the glowing warmth of light from another era. The Pleasant Home's 1st floor includes of the Great Hall, Living and Dining Rooms and enclosed circular porch. The front porch is a great addition to the 1st floor during warmer weather. It is perfect for wedding ceremonies, smaller banquets or cocktail parties. The Library is slightly off the beaten path, but is a great place for a buffet station for a cocktail reception. It is also perfect for small lectures of meetings that do not require the use of the whole house.
Located on East Broadway in Johnston City, this memorial wall contains the names of local fallen heroes. A Memorial Day celebration is held in this location every year.
Amidst the untamed beauty of the Illinois prairie sprang the elegance and grace of the Duncan Mansion. The home of Governor Joseph Duncan is the only existing structure that served as the Governor's Mansion outside of Springfield. Open Memorial Day to Labor Day, Wednesday & Saturday 1 to 4 p.m. Suggested donation of $4 for adults and $2 for children.