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DAY TRIP – History feels right at home: The past comes alive at Mount Carroll museum

MOUNT CARROLL – History has found a home, and it’s Miles away, but don’t worry, it won’t take you long to get there.

The Owen P. Miles Museum, operated by the Carroll County Historical Society, is a welcoming place, displaying not only the beauty of the home itself, but managing to retain its friendly charm even with display cases filled with the county’s history sitting within the same walls where children once played.

When she entered the Italianate house, my guide, Ronnie, exuded the kind of warmth you’d expect to find in a happy home, and I have to admit, it was a happiness that was contagious.

One of the items pointed out to me when I first arrived was the Bible owned by the Miles family dating back to 1857, the year Owen married. What a gem to have.

As I toured the house, its history unfolded before my eyes. The historical society acquired the property and home, which was built in 1873, in 1982. Then they had to get it looking like it did when it was first built. 

“It was revamped room by room” she said, pointing out the original doors.

We toured the ladies’ parlor and the gentlemen’s room. I learned the Miles family consisted of seven children – two others had died young. The last to live in the house was Mary, who remained single.

As I toured the first floor, I was shown a cabinet owned by the first woman doctor in Mount Carroll, Dr. Jean Mackay-Glidden, who lived from 1859 to 1912. I found that fascinating.

Ronnie showed me the family dining room, which other than the basement was the only room to have a fireplace. I also toured the kitchen and found out about the summer kitchen, which still is there but isn’t open to the public. My tour also took me upstairs, where the bedrooms were.

After the tour, Ronnie suggested I walk around the house and take a look at it from the outside, which I did.

Displays throughout the home are filled with Carroll County history.

I saw a World War I chaplain’s set and a 1900s' treadle in a wood case used by Arthur Reeves’ wife in her hat shop. Ronnie pointed out a field cradle, which was actually used in the field, and a rope bed.

In the last room of the tour, there’s a wealth of information about Carroll County’s country schools. All kinds of information and photos about the one-room schoolhouses are there.

The house also has a full attic and basement, not open for tours.

“It’s a big building,” Ronnie said.

And that it is. There’s a lot of history to appreciate, and all under one roof. Stop by and find out more about the Miles family, where they lived, and the city and county that they called home.

If you have time and plan ahead, the Society’s Oakville Complex on Oakville Road is open by appointment. It consists of two log cabins, a blacksmith shop, an 1888 schoolhouse and a granary.


If you go...

What: Owen P. Miles Museum

Where: 107 W. Broadway St., Mount Carroll

When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday

Cost: $3.50 for adults and $3 for children younger than 12

Distance: About 52 miles from Dixon

Accessibility: Three steps to get into house; stairs to second floor

Information: 815-244-3474, Facebook

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