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Monday, October 10, 2011

A Little Tour of Ottawa, IL

In my last post I showed you photos from the Scarecrow Festival held in Ottawa, Illinois. Here is a tour of the rest of the town.

The tour begins at the Reddick Mansion, built in 1855 for $25,000 (today's cost well over $500,000). The ground floor, or "common area", served as a work area for the servants and consisted of  a dining room, kitchen and laundry. The main level had three parlors and William Reddick's library. The second floor contained four large family bedrooms, and finally, the top floor were the servants' quarters. In later years the building was the town's library, and now houses offices of non-profit agencies. Tours are available to the public, although we didn't have time to take one that day. William Reddick made his money from real estate and by 1877, his worth was estimated at $300,000! To read more about the mansion, visit the website here.

Horse drawn wagon rides were available to the public throughout the day.


I had posted this photo the other day, but I wanted to talk a little more about the importance of the first Lincoln-Douglas debate held in Washington Square in Ottawa, IL on August 21, 1858. This was the first of seven Senatorial debates between the two, and attracted a crowd of about 14,000 people to hear them discuss the hot topics of that time: slavery and the state's rights.

"In this carnival-like atmosphere, the speakers interacted with and were sometimes interrupted by the crowd (at one point when Lincoln begins to read from his papers, one man shouts out 'Put on your specs,' which Mr. Lincoln replied, 'Yes, sir, I am obliged to do so.  I am no longer a young man,' an exchange the whole crowd found amusing)." (link)
Lincoln stands 11 feet; Douglas at 9 feet

Right across from this park is this large mural depicting that day.

"The Day of the Great Debate"

Also in Washington Square is the marble Soldiers Monument, erected in September 1873, in memory of more than 800 men from LaSalle County who died in the Civil and Spanish American Wars.


Due to the weather, all the names have worn down.


And have since been engraved on large cement tablets  alongside the obelisk.


Sadly, the carver of the monument, Edward McInhill, was never paid in full for his work, died in debt, and is buried without a headstone. Hardly seems fair, right?

While walking down the street, I saw this lamp post. It made me laugh. Like it couldn't choose between summer and fall!



This next mural is dedicated to Abraham Lincoln's friend and political supporter, General W.H.L Wallace, who COULD have begun his law practice with Lincoln, but instead established an office in Ottawa with T. Lyle Dickey.

"The Life of General W.H.L. Wallace"

Another sight that made me laugh.....just had to grab a photo!

Reminds me of that saying, "One of these is not like the other!"
The Illinois Valley was an ideal trading center due to the confluence of the Illinois and Fox Rivers, and the American Indians were well aware of this fact. They were the first residents of this area.

"Ottawa's Earliest Residents"

I found this beautiful little water fountain and benches right on the main street.


Another famous resident of Ottawa.....Bob McGrath from Sesame Street, shown here on this mural.

"Imagine and Learn with Bob McGrath"

Interesting tidbit.....the original sketch of this mural had an ostrich in it due to the fact that the mere image of "Big Bird" cost over 6 figures! Because Mr. McGrath was from Ottawa, he got the fees waived and the town was able to have Big Bird in the mural.

Main Street during the Scarecrow Festival.


Parades played a big part in this town, so it is fitting that it is displayed in a mural as such.

"Streetscape Reflections"
This is the LaSalle County Courthouse where Lincoln and Douglas argued a Supreme Court case. Both lawyers were criticized by the court for not having prepared a proper record for the reviewing court. Justices reversed the trial court's decision making Lincoln the loser.


In 1886, a young French glasslower named Victor Peltier opened his own company in Ottawa. Peltier Glass made opalescent glass, sheet glass, stained glass and glass marbles. Among Peltier's clientele....St. Patrick's Church, Chicago's Cultural Center, Fort Motor Company, and Louis Comfort Tiffany, makers of the famous Tiffany lamps. Glass from this company has traveled all over the world. Sadly, this company has recently shut down.

"Peltier Glass Factory"

There are many beautiful churches in the area, and I only got a chance to grab photos of two of them.

Christ Episcopal Church

First Congregational United Church Of Christ
On the outskirts of town is the Ottawa Avenue Cemetery. There stands this beautiful Roman Memorial Column. This monument was built in 1918 as a memorial to the early pioneers of Ottawa to commemorate the centennial celebration of Illinois statehood.


Boy Scouts of America can thank Ottawa resident Willam D. Boyce for founding their organization on February 8, 1910. This was all due to one fateful foggy night in 1909 London when Boyce lost his way and asked a local boy for help. The boy gladly helped the American find his way, but declined any compensation for his aid. He replied instead that as a Scout, "helping people was his duty."

Boyce became a millionaire publisher of three weekly newspapers in Chicago, which in 1894 had a combined circulation of 500,000. Boyce died in 1921 and is buried in Ottawa Avenue Cemetery. This is his gravesite.


I hope you enjoyed the tour of Ottawa. This is one of the joys of our travels; coming across a small town and discovering new things.

Oh! I almost forgot!

I saw a sign with my mantra on it!




Thanks to the Heritage Tour brochure from Ottawa where I got a lot of the above information.

18 comments:

Donna B said...

You travelin' duo you guys... just popping in to say HI...we did some traveling to Tucson and my back did not do so well and went out again...

We have company coming for the next two weeks and have decided I need to get rid of more stuff in this house...I need to really scale it back...

I am hoping to have some time to blog in mid November...will visit when I can...I'm on a roll and I cannot stop!

hugs to you!!

SquirrelQueen said...

That little town has a lot of history. I really like all of the murals. It's also nice to see that many of the historic buildings and houses have been preserved.

Thanks for the tour Pat.

Valerie said...

What a lovely historic place. I love these tours you take us on, Pat.

Rita said...

Wow! Another fantastic post where I learned new things. I don't always comment but I love visiting your blog! :)

Brian Miller said...

wow i am digging all the murals, dont know if i have been anywhere with that much street art.

VaishVijay said...

Live tour effect and effective shots to go with it!

Sure am gonna follow you:)

David Allen Waters said...

the murrels are amazing.,, what a beautiful town, thanx for taking me along :)

Jeannelle said...

A wide variety of interesting historical attractions in this town! Thanks for the tour!

labbie1 said...

I think the Reddick mansion was showcased on an episode of Ghost Hunters. Beautiful!

I can't believe how many murals there are in the town! Wow! That is awesome!

One of these things is not like the others! You are a HOOT! :)

It looks like such a clean and pretty town! Thanks for the tour!

Nezzy said...

I so enjoyed my tour of Ottawa, such a beautiful place. Looks like a very quaint and friendly place.

God bless and enjoy this beautiful week sweetie!!!

Kim, USA said...

Hahahaha the last one is a punch! Makes me laugh! Thanks for the tour Pat. I started my post it forward, hubby loves it ^_^

http://awifey.blogspot.com

Lynda said...

Great pics and information as usual. You certainly love learning and passing it on. Were you a teacher in your former life (before retirement)? I think murals add happiness and fun to a town.

Eva Gallant said...

Thanks for the tour. Great photos!

Teresa - in the Middle Side of Life said...

you should publish a book! you do an amazing job of taking pictures and describing what they are. i love to look at your work.

sounds like a really fun place to visit.

Louis la Vache said...

A very informative, interesting and entertaining post, Pat!

Betty Manousos@ Cut and Dry said...

thanks for taking me along!

loved the tour and that beautiful historic place.

betty xx

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Your brain is working just fine girl!

I love tours like this whether real or virtual -- Love seeing what small towns have to offer and you found some great stuff. Nice mix of history and humor, I love it!

We saw a little tw0-man play one time about the Lincoln-Douglas debates and so I learned how important and really history changing they were. And caught a little of Lincoln's humor.

Betty Manousos@ Cut and Dry said...

that town is literally beautiful!

lovely photos .

thanks for taking me along...
i love it!