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History takes the stage

Buildings in LaSalle, Streator and Ottawa open for tours

Published: Friday, April 26, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT
(Photo by Joe Balynas)
The sun shines brightly on the Hegeler Carus Mansion of LaSalle. The site is one of three in the Illinois Valley area that give tours.

LaSALLE COUNTY – Three homes, three cities in one day trip or separately – Hegeler Carus, Weber House, and Reddick Mansion – all welcome visitors.

The Hegeler Carus Mansion, more than 100 years old, is in LaSalle. Considering it was once a family home, it is an impressively large structure with 57 rooms. It was built for Edward Hegeler and his wife, Camilla Weisbach Hegeler, who married in 1860, and had eight children.

Later, the mansion become the home of their daughter, Mary; her husband, Paul Carus; and their six children. She has a place in history as a "first." Mary was the first woman to graduate from the School of Mines in Germany and in engineering department at the University of Michigan. The last family member in the house, was the Carus' son, Alwin, who lived there until he died in 2004 at the age of 102.

The home and grounds offer more than tours. A summer concert series begins June 1.

At the Weber House and Garden in Streator, "cute" is the word. This Tudor-style home, surrounded by a 2-acre garden, is the place to go to get away from it all. Owner Ted Weber's garden tour begins through an almost-magical red gate. Paths wander among the flowers outside, and inside, the home is comfortable and cozy.

Moving down the road to the Reddick Mansion and Gardens in Ottawa, travelers arrive at a house of Italianate proportions. Businessman William Reddick and his family lived in the mansion, which was built in 1856 and has four floors. The lower level was the domestic area, where work was done, with the main floor being the reception and more public floor. The family bedrooms are on the third level, and to reach their bedrooms, the servants had the highest climb to the top.

Here, too, events are scheduled. One will be from 1 to 3 p.m. May 11. "May Melodies," is an afternoon tea. The cost is $12 for adults and $8 for children. On June 23, the Sunrise Rotary Garden Walk will be from 1 to 4 p.m., "Sunrise" being the club's name, not the time of the walk. And before summer closes, an old-fashioned ice ream social will be at 2 p.m. Aug. 18.

As can be found out at these sties, there are many ways to enjoy history near the Sauk Valley that rival the gardens and homes of Europe. It only takes a day.

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