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Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home Celebrates 30 years

Potential for new visitors center

DIXON – Thirty years ago, President Ronald Reagan ate lunch in the Dixon home he lived in for 3 years. Today, the plates, table and chairs from that meal are still in the house.

The Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home, 816 S. Hennepin Ave., celebrated its 30th anniversary Thursday with night tours of the home and visitor center.

The home’s board of directors will consider having a new visitors center built on a piece of land it owns at the northwest corner of Ninth Street and Galena Avenue, Board President Ann Lewis said. If the cost is reasonable, she said, additional steps will be taken for fundraising.

The visitor center could have interactive elements, she said, depicting what life was like in Illinois during the 1920s. Lewis expressed interest in approaching the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California or Eureka College to see if they would be willing to donate any surplus artifacts or documents.

To recognize the anniversary, Lewis said the Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home received proclamations from Rep. Tom Demmer and Sen. Tim Bivins, both R-Dixon.

In July 1979, the home, which was then a two-family duplex, was up for sale and being sold by Burke Realty and current Dixon Mayor Jim Burke, the mayor said, and he sold it for $37,500 with a $500 down payment.

It was that sale that allowed the home to be made into what it is today.

After the home was purchased, Burke got a telegram from someone in Las Vegas offering to buy the house for $50,000, he said, but the paperwork for the original sale had already started.

In the 30 years since it opened, nearly 500,000 people have made their way from across the country and world to tour, Lewis said, adding that visitors from former Soviet Union countries often get emotional and feel a strong connection to Reagan.

Reagan lived in several places throughout the state, Lewis said, but from the ages of 9 to 22 he had a Dixon address. For 3 of those years, he lived in the home on Hennepin Avenue.

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