Starved Rock Country is home to some beautiful historic homes and sprawling curated gardens. Enjoy the intersection of history, design and nature with six popular home and garden tours. History comes alive at these locations, whose legacies mesh with notable historical moments such as the monumental civil engineering project that was the I&M Canal, the first Lincoln-Douglas Debate and the Underground Railroad. To soak in some of the fascinating historical stories, or just some relaxing time in nature, pay a visit to these exciting attractions.
Hegeler Carus Mansion
1307 Seventh St., LaSalle
Designed by W.W. Boyington, the famed Chicago Water Tower architect, LaSalle’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.
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 house now sports beautifully decorated rooms, each one reflecting a different period of design, and 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 to October.
100 W. Lafayette St., Ottawa
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 painstakingly restored to the 19th century period, after decades of being used as the town’s public library. Now, the mansion is open year-round for tours from Friday through Monday.
22937 1140 North Ave., Princeton
Located just a short drive from downtown Princeton and less than 45 minutes from Starved Rock State Park, you’ll find a floral oasis in a sea of cornfields and forests. Hornbaker Gardens, known far and wide for the remarkable varieties of hostas it cultivates, is a signature destination for garden enthusiasts across the Midwest. It merges the best aspects of top-shelf garden centers and big-name arboretums, making a trip to Hornbaker Gardens a great way to enjoy some nature while shopping.
Owen Lovejoy Homestead
Rural Route 3, East Peru Street, 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 the impeccably restored Greek Revival-style home, you’ll find rooms with period-accurate furnishings, including one that contains a concealed compartment in which escaped slaves 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.
Route 71, Hennepin
Built in 1844, the Federalist-style townhouse boasts five fireplaces, elaborate original woodwork, skylights, servant quarters and a luxurious kitchen for the era. The property changed hands over the years before being deeded to the city of Hennepin, which restored the 2 1⁄2-story brick house, earning it a spot on the National Register of Historic Places. The Pulsifer House now serves as the headquarters for the regional historical society, and generally is open for tours from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesdays and Fridays.