Reagan’s parents Jack and Nelle, moved to Dixon in 1920, when Reagan was 9 years old. Dixon is a beautiful old river town with a population of 15,000 and is the Petunia Capital of Illinois. The annual Petunia Festival is one of the premier festivals in the state and is held over the 4th of July holiday. The Victory Arch Memorial has greeted travelers on Galena Avenue since 1919.
Sites to Visit:
Dixon Historic Center
5th St. & Hennepin Ave. (Reagan Way), Dixon, IL 61021 – 815-288-5508, fax 815-288-5749
History Research and Learning Center housed in President Ronald Reagan’s boyhood South Central School. Beautifully restored and proudly affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution.
Dixon Public Library
221 S. Hennepin Ave. (Reagan Way), Dixon, IL
The Reagan family moved to Dixon Dec. 6, 1920 when Ronald was 9 yrs. old. Three weeks later Ronald and brother Neil had library cards. Ronald’s card no. was 3695. A letter to “friends of the library” in 1995 he wrote ” a library has a single overriding purpose, to connect us with the people and places, ideas and experiences that enrich our lives and deepen our humanity.”
Dixon Welcome Center
106 W. River Street, Dixon, IL 61021
New Location! Overlooking the beautiful Rock River at the corner of Galena Ave. and River Street, directly across from the beautiful new riverfront project, “Heritage Crossing” which boasts the lifesize bronze statue of Reagan entitled “Begins the Trail”. Phone: 815 284 3496
First Christian Church
123 S. Hennepin Ave. (Reagan Way), Dixon, IL 61021
Reagan’s Brother Neil was baptized a catholic, but Ronald and his mother attended the First Christian Church where Nelle taught Sunday school. The 150 year old church hosts a Reagan exhibit.
Loveland Community Building
513 W. Second St.
Phone: 815 284 2741
The Loveland Community Building houses a museum featuring many artifacts of farm and community life from years past. A Reagan Wing with images and posters of Reagan’s life as movie actor and Dixon citizen includes a plaque presented to him for services as life guard at Lowell Park, where he served from 9th grade through part of his college years. Museum hours: Wed. 1 to 4 PM, Fri. and Sat. 9 AM to 12 noon, 1st Sat. each month 9 AM to 3 PM.
2114 Lowell Park Rd., Dixon, IL 61021
History indicates that Ronald saved 77 lives while lifeguarding at Lowell Park on the Rock River. The Park is open for picnics, hiking, biking, fishing, and boating and is the site of free pontoon rides during Dixon’s annual “Reagan Trail Days” celebration. A plaque presented to Reagan by the Dixon Park District for 5+ years of service as lifeguard was found in the old bath house and is now on display in the Reagan wing of the Dixon Museum at the Loveland Building.
Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home
816 S. Hennepin Ave. (Reagan Way), Dixon, IL 61021
The Boyhood Home is restored to its 1920 condition and decorated with furniture typical of the period. Family activity extended beyond the house to the barn where “Dutch” and his brother “Moon” raised rabbits. Visitors can tour the home along with an interpretive visitors center next door. Open April 1 through October,(closed Easter Sunday) Mon.thru Sat.,10 to 4, Sun., 1 to 4.(weekends only in March). closed Nov thru Feb. Please make advance reservations for group tours. Admission: $5 for adults, Children 12 and under are free with family. Arrivals should be no later than 3:30 to enjoy a leisurely tour. NOTE: 2011 dates remain the same but hours change to 9 to 5.
Historic Markers and Monuments:
Wings of Peace and Freedom Park
N. East Corner of Galena Ave. and 2nd St., Dixon, IL 61021
Nick Tanev, an imigrant to America from Bulgaria, presented the City of Dixon with the “Wings of Peace and Freedom” sculpture as an expression of Mr. Tanev’s gratitude to President Reagan for his part in ending the Cold War, and to the city for producing such a strong and courageous leader.
Where to Stay:
136 Plaza Drive, Dixon, IL 61021
48 rooms, suites offering whirlpool tubs and fireplaces; complimentary deluxe continental breakfast. Two indoor pools with whirlpool and water play features. Fitness room with multi-station exercise machine.
Crawford House Inn
204 E. 3rd St., Dixon, IL 61021
Italianate-style mansion bed & breakfast. Three rooms with two shared baths, Jacuzzi, fireplace, TV and VCR. Full breakfast included.
Dixon Super 8 Motel
1800 S. Galena Ave., Dixon, IL 61021
815-284-1800 or 800-800-8000
41 rooms, hot tub suites, exercise facility with whirlpool and sauna. Free deluxe continental breakfast.
Quality Inn & Suites
154 Plaza Drive, Dixon, IL 61021
815-288-2001 or 800-424-6423
Golf themed hotel featuring two indoor pools with whirlpool and water play feature. 52 rooms, some suites with fireplaces and whirlpool tubs. Free full hot breakfast served daily. Fitness room with multi-station exercise machine. Quality Inn & Suites procures marketing materials from Vistaprint. If you own a business, go online for Vistaprint Coupons to save 25%.
Dixon Petunia Festival
Dixon’s annual Petunia Festival is one of the state’s premier events. Every year over the July 4th week. Various events in and around the city include a carnival, pancake breakfasts, Taste Trail and over 30 entertainment events for all ages. Parade, fireworks, Carnival admission: Children 12 and under, Free. www.petuniafestival.org
Reagan Trail Days 2011
Annual event, August: A week filled with events honoring our hometown President, Ronald Wilson Reagan, including a wine tasting at the Reagan Boyhood Home , ice cream social on the Riverfront), free Pontoon rides on the Rock River from Lowell Park where Reagan served as lifeguard , Taste of Dixon, all day on the Riverfront with music, beer garden, Ronald Reagan Heritage Bike Ride www.rrvbc.net or www.reagantraildays.net
Tales from Beyond the Grave
Dixon Tourism in partnership with Lee County Genealogical Society is presenting their third annual cemetery walk. The history of Dixon and some of its ancestors will be reenacted at grave sites by local actors dressed in period costume. This event, celebrating the many tragedies and triumphs of persons that make up the rich history of Dixon, will be held at Oakwood Cemetery. Tour groups of 8 to 10 will assemble from 2 to 5 PM. near the cemetery entrance. Guided walking tours last approximately one hour. Golf carts are available for those needing assistance. Suggested donation of $5 for adults, children under 12 free. Proceeds will be used for cemetery restoration.