Location: Dixon, Illinois
Webpage: National Historic Site
General Description: The modest home in Dixon, Illinois, was the site of President Ronald Regan’s first childhood memories although his family only lived there from 1920 to 1924. The family lived in many locations in northern Illinois as his father followed jobs as a shoe salesman and he was 9 years old when they rented this house. When the rent more than doubled in 1924, the family moved to an upstairs apartment in town. The years in this house were fondly remembered by President Regan playing in the yard and attending school just five blocks away. The house is a gabled roof, two-story white frame house that was typical of homes in the early 20th century. A broad porch stretches across the front of the house. The ground floor has an entry hall, double parlor, dining room, kitchen, and family room. The second story has three bedrooms and with an indoor bathroom that was converted from the large walk-in closet in the master bedroom. Tours of the house are conducted by volunteers on an as needed basis.
1) It is a little confusing whether this is a National Historic Site or not. The NPS webpage list it as one, however, there is no evidence of this at the home. They have converted the home next door to a small Visitor Center with a nice video about Ronald Regan and the town of Dixon in the early 1900s.
2) Tours of the house are provided as needed and since we visited during the middle of the week we had a private tour of the home. The two retired school teachers were very knowledgeable about the home and a sheer delight. Since this was a rental property at the time and the fact the Regan family lost most of their household goods in a fire years later, there is very little in the home that belong to the family. However, they have done a good job in providing period furnishings and paid close attention to the memories of Ronald Regan and his brother.
3) The ground floor is divided into a number of small rooms to be used as parlors, family rooms, dining rooms, and kitchen. We enjoyed attempting to identify many of the household goods from the times in the kitchen. While we were able to identify most of them, we were stumped on the large metal plunger that was used to agitate the laundry.
4) Be careful of the very narrow and steep stairway to the second floor where you find three bedrooms. The brothers shared a bedroom, as the third bedroom was used a guest room for a continual rotation of boarders taken in by Mrs Regan as part of her charity work. The only surprising feature was the bathroom on the second floor. It is the only bathroom in the house and is a long, narrow room just wide enough for a tub. It is believed the space was originally the walk-in closet for the master bedroom especially since the other two bedrooms had large closets of their own.