The Scene

Tour Starved Rock Country’s historic homes and marvelous museums

9 must-visit landmark attractions

Beyond the trails of Starved Rock Country’s famed state parks and nature preserves, you’ll find a wide variety of museums, mansions and tours steeped in the rich history of Illinois’ early years.

At these fun, all-ages attractions, learn about pre-colonial life in the Starved Rock region, the legendary first Lincoln-Douglas debate, the digging of the expansive I&M Canal and the crucial role the region played in the founding of the Boy Scouts of America.

Reddick Mansion

100 W. Lafayette St., Ottawa

The original Reddick Mansion furniture is now on display in the center parlor of the Ottawa mansion, which is decorated for the holidays.

The Reddick Mansion, a wonderfully unique landmark, stands at the corner of Columbus and Lafayette streets in Ottawa, overlooking the Lincoln-Douglas debate site. The over 150-year-old, 22-room, Italianate mansion has been meticulously restored to the 19th century, after decades of being used as the town’s public library. Now, the mansion is open year-round for tours from Friday through Monday.

Ottawa Historical and Scouting Heritage Museum

1100 Canal St., Ottawa

Head to the Ottawa Historical and Scouting Heritage Museum to learn all about the history of the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and the town of Ottawa. You’ll find more than a century’s worth of Scouting artifacts and the largest collection of English Scouting memorabilia in the United States, as well as rare artifacts from the famed Lincoln-Douglas debate.

La Salle County Historical Society Museum

101 E. Canal St., Utica

The La Salle County Historical Society campus, on the banks of the historic I&M Canal, consists of six attractions, countless interpretive displays and some amazing relics from the history of the Starved Rock Country region. Onsite, you’ll also find the canal warehouse (used for artisan markets throughout the year), a one-room schoolhouse, a working blacksmith shop and an original barn dating back to 1875.

Hegeler Carus Mansion

1307 Seventh St., La Salle

Hegeler-Carus Mansion in La Salle

Designed by W.W. Boyington, the famed Chicago Water Tower architect, La Salle’s Hegeler Carus Mansion has remained virtually unaltered since its completion in 1876. The 16,000-square-foot mansion features 56 rooms spread across seven levels. The interior is just as stunning as the exterior, with its intricate parquet floors and hand-painted ceilings. The national landmark is open for tours Wednesday through Sunday year-round. Pre-registration for the tours is required.

Weber House and Garden

1503 Baker St., Streator

Streator’s Ted Weber, formerly a nationally syndicated radio interviewer, began renovating his historic childhood home in 1983. The beautiful house now sports impeccably decorated rooms, each one reflecting a different period of design, along with a meticulously manicured English-style garden. The unique blend of architecture, horticulture, interior design and broadcast history is open for tours seven days a week from April through October.

Owen Lovejoy Homestead

Rural Route 3, E. Peru St., Princeton

The Owen Lovejoy Homestead, built in 1838, was the home of a famed abolitionist minister, congressman and instrumental member of the Underground Railroad. Inside this impeccably restored Greek Revival-style home, you’ll find rooms with period-accurate furnishings, including one that contains a concealed compartment in which people escaping enslavement would be hidden. On the property, you’ll also find the fully restored 1849 Colton One-Room Schoolhouse. Call 815-875-2616 for dates and times that the homestead is available for tours.

Union Depot Railroad Museum

783 Main St., Mendota

Union Depot Railroad Museum is housed in a restored portion of Mendota’s original railroad station, built in the late 1880s and torn down in the early 1940s. The museum houses many railroad artifacts, an HO model railroad depicting Mendota in the late 1930s and early 1940s, an extensive railroad history library and many displays. A portion of the building is a waiting room for Amtrak passengers.

Westclox Museum

350 Fifth St., Suite 265, Peru

Peru’s famed Westclox factory, makers of the beloved, cult-favorite clock, are honored in this fascinating museum. Through a vast collection of documents, artifacts and antiques, the Westclox Museum tells the story of the community that made the remarkable timepieces.

Streatorland Historical Society Museum

109 E. Elm St., Streator

Celebrate historic Streator at this riveting museum filled with thousands of artifacts, pictures and records dedicated to telling the story of the community. You’ll also find a real Burlington Northern caboose on the museum property.