101 E Canal Street
PO Box 278
Utica, IL 61373
PO Box 278
Utica, IL 61373
|Winter hours (December - March|
|Friday, Saturday, Sunday ||12:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.|
|Wednesday - Friday ||10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.|
|Saturday & Sunday ||12:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.|
Donations gratefully accepted
Sue Martyn, Office Manager
Ashley D. Bloomquist, Curator
Monica Blue, Staff assistant
The LaSalle County Historical Society celebrated its centennial anniversary during 2007. The founders had a vision in 1907. They wrote "Without an organization of this sort much of value to posterity would be obliterated by the passage of years from the annals of our county's history."
Our resolve today is much the same--to procure and save the historical treasures of LaSalle County for the present and future generations.
The Society does this through a four-building complex located in downtown Utica. The main building is itself an historical site, an 1848 warehouse, granary, and general store built alongside the Illinois and Michigan Canal.
The complex also includes a working blacksmith shop built in 1896, in which demonstrations of the blacksmith's trade are given for tour groups and school groups.
A one-room rural schoolhouse built in 1865 was completely furnished by donations from throughout the county, and included student desks, maps, bookcases, books, flags, pictures, school records to furnish and restore the school as it might have looked at the turn of the 19th century. The school is the site of an annual education program in which about 1,200 fourth graders from around the county spend a day learning about the lessons, regulations and discipline of a hundred years ago. Students are given a handbook that includes the history of the area and selections from McGuffey's Fourth Eclectic Reader, along with penmanship and arithmetic lessons. The day-long experience includes visits to the museum, the 1875 post-and-beam barn, the 1896 blacksmith shop, and the I & M Canal. Area craftspeople demonstrate old time crafts such as quilting, weaving, blacksmithing, rug braiding, and barrel making.
Ongoing projects include a fund drive to expand the current museum building, printing of a major volume on the county's one-room schoolhouses, bus trips to assorted historical attractions, the Spring fourth graders education program, a book fair and sale, a major day-long Burgoo festival in which pioneer stew is served and hundreds of craftsmen and vendors sell their wares and attracts 30,000 people to Utica (population 960); and our annual dinner and meeting.
"To search out, procure and preserve in permanent form, facts and data in the history of the County of LaSalle, Illinois as related to persons, places and all objects therein."
The LaSalle County Historical Society was founded in 1907. Following a brief hiatus for WWI the Society was chartered in 1924. The county centennial in 1931 brought on a surge of interest as communities from throughout the county found and saved records, artifacts, and oral histories of the early pioneers of the county.
In the mid-50s a resurgence of interest sparked a search for a facility in which to display the collected artifacts.
An 1848 warehouse and granary on the Illinois & Michigan Canal was rescued from demolition and in 1967 became the permanent home for the Society and the museum.
The museum has added an 1875 vintage barn, an 1896 working blacksmith shop, and an 1865 one-room schoolhouse to its complex. It also has on permanent loan to the Mendota Railroad Museum a retired steam engine and tender, circa 1930.
- Extensive Native American collection of basketry, weapons, utensils, clothing. Heavy accent on Lincoln, Civil War, Underground Railroad, and the Illinois and Michigan Canal.
- Native American Collections are available to certified scholars or university researchers. Casual researchers are encouraged to contact the museum so a docent may accompany them on their visit.
- In April for six weeks we invite fourth grade classes from the area to take part in a day-long program with emphasis on the one-room schoolhouse and interactive role play. Docents in costume, some of them former rural school teachers, guide the students through a typical school day in 1895, with class exercises typical of the time period. Tours of the other facilities are guided by an agrarian historian, a working blacksmith, and main building docents. A fee of one dollar per student is charged.
Fifteen member volunteer board
Five volunteer officers
Access: General Public, Students, Scholars, Members
Appointment required: No
The Society publishes a monthly newsletter for members and regional historical and genealogical societies, a small annual "yearbook" containing museum operating hours, staff, board members, constitution and bylaws, a catalogue of books for sale, and smaller publications such as the one acknowledging the fortieth anniversay of the museum operating in the 1848 granary.
- Monthly newsletter
- 2007 LaSalle County Historical Society (yearbook)
- Catalogue of publications for sale
- Fortieth anniversary booklet, and similar
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