Illinois Presidential Real Estate

February 17, 2013

Lincoln HomeIllinois has been home to some of our country’s greatest leaders and their residences have ranged from 19th century Greek Revival homes to Hyde Park mansions. The state boasts the current home of President Obama, as well as former residences of Reagan and Lincoln. Visiting theses homes and neighborhoods can be eye-opening, and can teach us valuable lessons about our country and its history.

If you’re interested in checking out some presidential real estate over the long weekend, here’s where to go and what you need to know.

  • Barack and Michelle Obama’s Kenwood Home: Who wouldn’t want to catch a glimpse of the current presidents abode, which is located at the 5000 Block of South Greenwood Avenue? Unfortunately, the area is patrolled by the Secret Service, so standing on the front lawn isn’t exactly an option. The Obama’s home is a Georgian revival mansion that boasts 6,500 square feet. Georgian homes are often noted for their strong sense of design symmetry, multi-pane windows and chimneys on both sides of the home.

The Kenwood neighborhood borders Lake Michigan on the south side of Chicago, and contains some of the largest homes in the city. Neighborhood landmarks include Regents Park, the Blackstone Public Library and the Hyde Park Art Center.

obama1-229x250In November, the vacant lot next to Obama’s home went on sale for $899,000. The lot was once owned by Antoin “Tony” Rezko, a political financier who was indicted on charges of fraud and bribery. Anyone who purchases the lot will get the added perks of Secret Service protection.

  • Lincoln Home National Historic Site in Springfield: Even if you haven’t yet made the trip to Springfield to actually visit the home of Lincoln, you’ve certainly at least heard of his homestead. Lincoln’s home, which is located in downtown Springfield, is a Greek Revival style home that Lincoln and his wife, Mary, purchased in 1844. Greek revival style homes are known for their decorative pilasters and columns as well as spacious porches. This home is not to be confused with Lincoln’s boyhood home, which is the infamous log cabin located in Knob Creek, Ind.

Lincoln’s Springfield home is two-stories and features a lower level with a rear parlor, front parlor, sitting room, kitchen and dining room. The second floor features five bedrooms and a trunk room. The Lincolns actually had two separate master bedroom suites, so that Lincoln could focus on writing and political work without disturbing Mary, since he often worked late into the night.

Visit Lincoln’s home, and you’ll also find a variety of unique furnishings that were common to the mid-19th century. One example of a unique piece of period specific furniture is an upholstered mahogany sofa with black horsehair fabric, which was a common material used in the 1800s made out of the hair on the manes and tails of horses. Another unique furnishings piece includes a high-backed chair made of 31 different types of velvets.

The Lincoln Home National Historic Site Visitor Center is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. except for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. During the summer, the site becomes quite busy, so you may want to stop by during the off-season.reagan-300x227

  • Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home in Dixon. Get a glimpse of how the former president and his family lived in the 1920s. Admission is only $5 and visitors can check out a variety of period furnishings and even see the secret room that Ronald shared with his brother, Neil. The exterior of the home is typical of the 1920s era, featuring a front porch and front formal parlor with a tile-trimmed fireplace.
  • Reagan’s Boyhood Hyde Park Flat. If you thought Obama was the only president to call Hyde Park his home, then think again. Though Reagan only lived in Hyde Park for around 10 months when he was just four years old, his family’s former Hyde Park flat has been the subject of some recent controversy. In December, Heneghan Wrecking and Excavating Co. applied for a permit to demolish the three-story brick building which is located at 832-834 E. 57th St. in the Hyde Park neighborhood. The request for demolition is now up for a review that will take up to 90 days, since some officials believe the building has historic value and should be left standing.

So, whether you stay in Chicago for the long weekend or decide to road trip downstate, it won’t be far before you run into a presidential landmark. Illinois has produced some of the finest leaders in history, so if you haven’t had a chance to check out any of these historic homes, what are you waiting for?

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