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Old Illinois Houses
by
John Drury

p. xiii Preface

In this consideration of old Illinois houses, I have treated each dwelling historically as well as architecturally, but the main emphasis has been placed on the personage or event that gave it distinction. After all, more people are attracted by the home of some great man or woman, no matter how plain or lowly that home may be, than are interested in the architecturally perfect mansion of a comparatively unknown person. It was on this basis, then, that a selection (with the exception of Chicago, which I treated in a separate volume) of nearly one hundred of the Prairie State's most distinctive old houses was made, and is herewith presented.

An early and important crossroads state in the center of America's vast inland region, Illinois, I discovered at the outset of my researches, contains perhaps as many unusual historic houses as any state in New England or the Old South.

With this in mind, I began work on the material in this book. The chapters — with two exceptions — appeared originally as a series of weekly illustrated articles in The Chicago Daily News, starting March 7, 1941. I was then a staff member of that newspaper, having written historical articles and sketches for it since 1926. Before starting work on "Old Illinois Houses," however, I had written another series called "Old Chicago Houses." So well received were these Chicago articles that they were gathered together and published in a book of the same title by the University of Chicago Press. Having thus covered the historic houses of my native city, I felt the next logical step was to make a similar study of the domiciliar landmarks of my native state.

When I sought approval of this project by the management of The Chicago Daily News, it was promptly and generously given. The city editor, Mr. Lewis Hunt, and his assistant, Mr. Clem Lane, both of whom had previously fostered by "Old Chicago Houses" series, and that newspaper's then editor-in‑chief, Mr. Paul Scott Mowrer, a devoted native of central Illinois, were convinced of the value of such a series as I proposed. Thus, early in the spring of 1941, in the midst of a blizzard, I began first of my three motor tours through southern, central, and northern Illinois, journeys which in the end totaled some five thousand miles.

p. xiv On visiting each historic dwelling, I took notes on both the house and its story. Then I returned to Chicago and engaged in further research on the subject, finding especially helpful the extensive historical collections in the Newberry Library. Here I was ably assisted by the head librarian, Dr. Stanley Pargellis, but by the two individuals in direct charge of the historical and genealogical books important to my study, Miss Elizabeth Coleman and Mr. Joseph Wolf. I also made much use of The Chicago Daily News library with its large collection of indexed newspaper clippings, and here, too, I was given wholehearted co-operation by its head, Mr. Thomas Sayers, whose untiring assistance I have always greatly appreciated. Others who gave me unstinted aid on historical aspects of the work were Mr. Paul M. Angle, then secretary of the Illinois State Historical Society (now director of the Chicago Historical Society), and Mr. Herbert H. Hewitt, head reference librarian of the Chicago Public Library, and his two assistants, Mrs. Roberta Sutton and Mrs. Mildred King.

In obtaining architectural information I found the most pertinent material in the Burnham Library of Architecture of the Art Institute of Chicago. Here the librarian in charge at the time, Miss Marion Rawls, was of great help, as was her then assistant, the late Mrs. Nancy Saunders. But much information on architecture, too, was offered by Mr. Earl H. Reed, of Chicago, director the northern Illinois unit of the former Historic American Buildings Survey, and Mr. Edgar E. Lundgren, of Bloomington, director of the southern Illinois unit of the same Survey. I was also assisted on both historical and architectural matters by Mr. John T. Frederick, director at the time of the Federal Writers' Project for Illinois.

The two chapters mentioned above as not being among the original articles in The Chicago Daily News are those on "Keepsake Cottage" at Princeton and "Indian Terrace" at Rockford. Both of these unusual landmarks came to my attention after the newspaper series was completed. As to the question of including here the houses of living persons, such as Carl Sandburg, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Ernest Hemingway, I am sure most people will agree with me that those in this book have acquired more than passing distinction in the cultural history of Illinois.

In point of chronological order, this work should have preceded my Historic Midwest Houses, which was published by the University of Minnesota Press in 1947. Perhaps I should explain, also, that Old Illinois Houses might have remained buried in the files of The Chicago p. xv Daily News had it not been for the favorable remembrance of Mr. Jay Monaghan, State Historian and secretary of the Illinois State Historical Society, and Mr. Ernest E. East of Peoria, a director of the Society. It was Mr. Monaghan who, in view of the forthcoming fiftieth anniversary of the Society (to be celebrated in 1949), suggested that my newspaper series would make a most fitting pre-anniversary volume, one that would be appreciated by both members and their friends. For this I am deeply grateful to Mr. Monaghan and the directors of the Society.

John Drury.

Part I, Southern Illinois (p1)

p2

French Colonial Architecture:
The Creole House, Prairie du Rocher

4

Territorial Landmark:
Pierre Ménard House, Kaskaskia

7

Illinois' Oldest Brick House:
Nicholas Jarrot Mansion, Cahokia

10

13

Survivor of English Prairie:
Gibson Harris House, Albion

15

In the Georgian Manner:
George French House, Albion

18

"Old Ranger" Lived Here:
Governor Reynolds House, Belleville

20

22

24

26

29

Home of the Quadroon Girl:
Basil Silkwood House, Mulkeytown

32

Birthplace of the Great Commoner:
William Jennings Bryan House, Salem

34

36

Part II, Central Illinois (p39)

p40

A Pioneer Editor's Home:
John Russell House, near Eldred

42

44

46

A Famous Stepmother Lived Here:
Sarah Lincoln House, near Charleston

48

Birthplace of a Journalist:
Melville E. Stone House, Hudson

50

His Father was Famous, Too:
Elbert Hubbard House, Hudson

52

Home of a City Founder:
Jesse Fell House, Normal

54

A Literary Shrine:
Richard Hovey House, Normal

56

59

A Vice-President Lived Here:
Adlai E. Stevenson House, Bloomington

61

Home of a Supreme Court Justice:
David Davis House, Bloomington

63

65

67

A Cabinet Member Lived Here:
Orville Hickman Browning House, Quincy

69

Candlelight and Crinoline:
Joseph Duncan House, Jacksonville

71

74

76

78

Lincoln Sipped Here:
Reason Hooton House, Danville

80

Here Lived "Uncle Joe":
Joseph G. Cannon House, Danville

82

"The Mansion House":
Joseph Smith Home, Nauvoo

85

A Landmark of Mormonism:
Brigham Young House, Nauvoo

87

In a French Communist Utopia:
Icarian Apartment House, Nauvoo

89

91

94

96

98

100

Official Home of Illinois Governors:
The Executive Mansion, Springfield

103

Art Museum and Social Center:
Benjamin S. Edwards House, Springfield

105

107

Fancy Creek Farmhouse:
George Power Home, Cantrall

109

In the Spoon River Country:
Newton Walker House, Lewistown

112

115

Where Lincoln and Douglas Agreed:
Francis E. Bryant House, Bement

117

On the University of Illinois Campus:
Herbert W. Mumford House, Urbana

119

Decatur Art Institute:
James Millikin House, Decatur

121

Part III, Northern Illinois (p125)

On an Island in the Mississippi:
George Davenport House, Rock Island

p126

Cabin on the Rock River:
Alexander Charters House, Dixon

128

130

Early Communistic Community:
Bishop Hill Colony House, Bishop Hill

133

Birthplace of a Sculptor:
Lorado Taft House, Elmwood

135

137

When Lincoln Visited Evanston:
Julius White House, Evanston

139

142

Northwest Territory Museum:
Charles G. Dawes House, Evanston

145

147

Underground Station:
Owen Lovejoy House, Princeton

150

Home of a Poet's Brother:
John H. Bryant House, Princeton

153

"Keepsake Cottage":
Herma Clark House, Princeton

155

Home of an Abolitionist Leader:
John Hossack House, Ottawa

158

160

Library in a Mansion:
William Reddick House, Ottawa

163

Queen Anne Style Mansion:
John D. Caton House, Ottawa

165

168

171

In the Lakes Country:
Horace Capron House, Hebron

173

175

Eccentric Inventor's Home:
Fred Francis House, Kewanee

178

180

In a Picturesque Community:
John Deere House, Grand Detour

182

Amid Unusual Rural Beauty:
Jane Addams House, Cedarville

184

186

A Gift from the People:
Ulysses S. Grant House, Galena

188

191

194

196

Fox River French Chateau:
Mark Dunham House, Wayne

198

Birthplace of a Novelist:
Ernest Hemingway House, Oak Park

201

203

206

209

[decorative delimiter]

Technical Details

Edition Used

The edition used in this transcription is the University of Chicago Press reprint, 1977. The book was first published as newspaper articles in 1941, then as a book in 1948. Neither the author nor the Chicago Daily News nor the Illinois State Historical Society renewed the copyright in either 1968/69 or 1975/76, and it therefore passed into the public domain on Jan. 1, 1977, which, parenthetically, very likely accounts for the date of the reprint: details here on the copyright law involved.

Proofreading

As almost always, I retyped the text by hand rather than scanning it — not only to minimize errors prior to proofreading, but as an opportunity for me to become intimately familiar with the work, an exercise which I heartily recommend: Qui scribit, bis legit. (Well-meaning attempts to get me to scan text, if successful, would merely turn me into some kind of machine: gambit declined.)

This transcription has been minutely proofread. In the table of contents above, the sections are shown on blue backgrounds, indicating that I believe the text of them to be completely errorfree. As elsewhere on this site, the header bar at the top of each chapter's webpage will remind you with the same color scheme.

The edition I followed was very well proofread; the inevitable few errors I found, I corrected, when important, with a bullet like this;º and when trivial, with a dotted underscore like this: as elsewhere on my site, glide your cursor over the bullet or the underscored words to read the variant. Similarly, bullets before measurements provide conversions to metric, e.g., 10 miles.

A small number of odd spellings, curious turns of phrase, etc. have been marked <!‑‑ sic ‑‑> in the sourcecode, just to confirm that they were checked.

Any other mistakes, please drop me a line, of course: especially if you have a copy of the printed book in front of you.

Pagination and Local Links

For citation and indexing purposes, the pagination is shown in the right margin of the text at the page turns (like at the end of this line);p57 these are also local anchors. Sticklers for total accuracy will of course find the anchor at its exact place in the sourcecode.

In addition, I've inserted a number of other local anchors: whatever links might be required to accommodate the author's own cross-references, as well as a few others for my own purposes. If in turn you have a website and would like to target a link to some specific passage of the text, please let me know: I'll be glad to insert a local anchor there as well.



[image ALT: A photograph of a small log cabin. It has a single story and an attic with a window; on the right side part of a porch is seen. It is an early‑19c log cabin in Charleston, Illinois.]

The icon I use to indicate this subsite is Ed Paul's photograph of the James Rennels Log Cabin (p47). The original there is in black & white; I colorized it.


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