This building was first built as the English Evangelical Lutheran Church then traded to the Presbyterians for their church. The Greek Revival structure was later deeded to Mount Carroll as the Community Center. The cornerstone was laid July 5, 1860.
The Christian Family is best known for being one of the earliest to settle in this area, arriving from Boonsboro, Maryland in 1838. Eight generations of the Christian Family constituted one of the largest family lines represented in Mount Carroll Township. John's father, Daniel Christian Jr. operated the first sawmill in the area. Daniel and his business associates sold their claim to a mill site to Emmert and Halderman (#18) for a flour mill (#7). George Christian, John's brother, donated the first land to be used for the town that would be known as Mount Carroll.
Samuel J. Campbell Sr., a prominent businessman and banker, built his second house here, in 1875, just south of his first house. This Italianate structure has a Federal style floor plan (symmetrical design with a center hallway the length of the house on the first and second floors) and once had a "summer kitchen" behind the house.
In 1906, Andrew Carnegie, helping to establish libraries in communities, donated $10,000 to build this free public library. Blue prints were drawn for this Greek Revival building and sent for approval. Mr. Carnegie replied that a two-story library could not be built for $10,000. Voters in town authorized a $3,000 bond issue to defray the cost of the larger library. Mr. Carnegie was so pleased with the result that he donated another $1,000 for purchase of incidentals along with the tables and chairs, which are still in use today.
Anchored by Carroll County's Courthouse Square (# 14) on the east and the Mill (#7) to the west down the hill, this substantial commercial center sprung to life in the mid 1840s. By choosing this site as the new county seat in 1843, plans for the new Village of Mount Carroll were soon underway. First, modest wooden structures, stone hotels and then grand Italianate storefronts made of bricks from the nearby Hallett Brickyard (# 10) quickly rose.
West Market Street
Hardware, dry goods, grocers, carriage makers, harness repair, liveries and more filled the buildings. Thankfully, a large number of the original buildings still stand, looking much like they did when they were built. Downtown Mount Carroll's extensive number of Mesker Brother Iron Works storefronts dating from the 1870s and 1880s is one of the finest collections in the United States. Mass-produced in St. Louis they were ordered through catalogs and were easily shipped by rail. Entire storefronts, tin ceilings, fences and more were offered. Made of galvanized steel and cast iron, they offered a minimum of maintenance to the building owner. Because of this durability many of the original metal facades, cornices, entire storefronts and ceilings are found today downtown.
Look for the Mesker Bros. signs to help identify some of the buildings.
Fay Christian the grandson of Daniel Christian Jr. opened his first storefront here. He was a successful undertaker, inventor and furniture salesman, running a business continuously here for 70 years. In the 1920s he expanded the furniture business into the building next door at 116 W. Market and remodeled this building, his funeral parlor with an Art Deco storefront. It was restored in the 1980s.
Built in 1841 by Emmert, Halderman and Co., the original flour grist mill was a substantial limestone structure (the current building is built on the original mill's foundation). Emmert and Halderman (# 18) bought the land claim from Messrs. D. Christian (#2), Swingley, Hitt and Swaggert for a sum of $3.000. Contracting with Daniel Hurley, a dam was constructed on the local creek (#9) and foundations for the mill were laid. Water to power the mill was tracked to the mill by a millrace. Traces of the millrace are still visible today as an elevated earth berm.
Their enterprise was well underway by the spring of 1842. The mill was heralded as "pioneer improvement" for the area in its time. This important business was a major factor in the early growth of Mount Carroll. By donating land and money to build the first courthouse to Carroll County for its newly formed county seat, Emmert and Halde1man assured that the downtown mercantile district would be located close to their mill. The mill went on to become a principle wheat market to both Carroll and Stephenson Counties.
This is the site of the first settlement around the mill. This long-gone log cabin was built as lodging for the men who worked in the mill. The log cabin originally contained four rooms. "Stag Point" referred to the dances that the workers had for recreation. Due to the lack of woman in the area the men danced together "stag". Looking at the bluff to the west-southwest into what is now known as "Point Rock Park" is the site of the last reported buffalo hunt in Illinois. The Native Americans herded the animals off the cliff to their deaths. Remains of thousands of buffalo bones were found when the first white settlers came to the area.
Manufactured by the Wrought Iron Bridge Company of Ohio, this bridge is a rare treasure. It was built to span Carroll Creek, also known as Straddle Creek or the Waukarusa (an Indian name meaning "winding stream").
James and his brother B.H. Hallett started this brickyard just north of the early town limits. It was situated off the creek with clay pits and just down the hill from ample timber stock. The massive kilns were the size of two or three houses put together. An average of 500,000 bricks were made yearly and 12 - 15 employees assisted in the production of the bricks. All of the prominent buildings in Mount Carroll, which include the Seminary, Courthouse additions and schools are made of Hallett brick, as are most of the downtown buildings. Horse teams hauled bricks regularly to the local towns of Hanover and Elizabeth. Look for the Hallett brick symbol on maps to identify Hallett brick buildings.
At age 16 Caroline Wade came to Mt. Carroll in 1836. She married James Mark seven years later and together they accumulated large acreages of land. After her husband passed away, Mrs. Mark observed that many women in the county were left penniless as they grew older. She decided to leave the bulk of her ample estate to build a home for elderly homeless or poor women. This two-story brick building is still used as it was intended, being funded by the estate's farms. This building is individually listed on the National Historic Register.
A crown jewel in the downtown area, the Hotel Glenview was built in 1886 at a cost of $20,000. It was constructed out of local Hallett brick, and the metal work done by local merchant S.J. Campbell (#3). Their motto "Our home is your home" along with its attractive rooms and excellent food welcomed many travelers and dignitaries. The hotel closed in 1976, but the building is still used for retail and apartments.
Standing 50 feet tall, the Carroll County Civil War Monument represents the Infantry and Cavalry with a standard bearer at the top. Finding that the monument's base was not large enough to contain all the names of Carroll County's 1284 war dead, an arch annex had to be built to hold the additional names. The north facing cavalryman was designed and carved by the famed sculptor Loredo Taft.
The original Carroll County courthouse was erected on the Northwest corner of the block with land donated by the mill company, Emmert, Halderman and Co. (#7). Completed in 1843, this small two story stone building was used as a church, courthouse, town hall and public meeting house. It was quickly outgrown and was replaced with a larger courthouse. The northernmost and oldest section of the existing courthouse and jail was built in 1858.
The building is a Greek Revival structure designed by Chicago architects William Olmstead & Peter Nicholson. It was built of local stone and made of Hallett brick (#I 0). A second brick building was built south of the original to hold the ever-growing county records. Two other additions in 1942 and 1958 united the 1858 and the 1895 buildings on two floors. The courthouse is individually listed on the National Register for Historic Places.
Neta Snook, aviatrix, was born here in Mount Carroll in 1896. She preferred mechanical devices to dolls and at an early age she built a small mechanical automobile. At age 9, her family moved to Ames, Iowa, and her love of planes developed during her college years. Neta became one of the nation's first licensed woman pilots. Not only was she Amelia Earhai1's first flight instructor, but also she became her close friend.
To this day Capt. Hawk, a wounded veteran of the U.S Army during the "Rebellion", remains Carroll County's only resident congressman. After holding the office of County Clerk he was elected to Congress in 1878. Legislation introduced by Capt. Hawk included a bill that oleomargarine and butter imitations must "be shipped in packages so marked."
A Pennsylvania native. Uriah Green arrived here in Carroll County in 184 l possessing a suit of clothes, a shotgun and the capitol of $2.10. By 1878 he was listed in the Carroll County Directory as a "Capitalist", holding offices of School Trustee, School Director and Director of the First National Bank. By the time of his death, he was known as a "street corner banker". Originally settling north of town, he moved to town after building this home in 1873.
Coming to the area with his family in 1841. Nathaniel Halderman was one of the early founders of Mount Carroll. The Emmett, Halderman and Co. contracted with Daniel Hurley for the mill site on Carroll Creek (#7). These three men offered $1,000, along with 40 acres of land, to bring the county seat closer to the flour mill. This site is now the courthouse square, the original town and downtown area. Mr. Halderman went on to become Mount Carroll's first mayor. This large Italianate home is individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The original front doors along with custom engraved windows with the family name are still intact (picture above).
The rich visual display of forms and textures identify this home as a variation of the Queen Anne style. Note the carriage house to the rear of the property, which retains its original horse stalls and hay racks.
Mr. John Blake was originally in partnership with John M. Stowell (#28) in the hardware and agricultural implement business. The addition of the dry goods department brought two other partners, including Thomas Squires (#27). Three years later the partners went their own way. Mr. Blake and partner F.D. Tracy continued with the dry goods business. It was said that the "Appointments and arrangements through-out not only indicate the evidence of a thorough knowledge and experience on the part of the management, but shows unmistakable signs of a large trade."
Jesse Shirk arrived from Franklin Co., Pa., in 1854 and started work at the grist mill, he obtained the Mt. Carroll Flouring Mill from Emmert, Halderman and Co. in 1864. Jessie Shirk ran the mill along with Owen Miles (#25) and Nathanial H. Halderman, son of the mill's founder (#18), under the firm name of Shirk, Miles and Co. Jesse's sister married Owen P. Miles.
Born in Scotland, William Mackay arrived m the area in L837. He raised a family while running the Christian sawmill west of Mount Carroll. Following the great 1886 cyclone, the family moved into this brick house, which served as the family home. His daughter Jean Mackay became one of the first woman physicians. She went on to become Telluride, Colorado's first woman county health officer. She returned to Mount Carroll to set up practice and to care for her aged mother.
Arising from early settlers' desire to give their children an education at a time where there were no public schools, the Mount Carroll Seminary was incorporated in 1852. Teacher Frances Wood was hired to take charge of the new school, along with her friend and classmate Cinderella Gregory. Starting as a co-ed school, it then later became a school for young ladies after most of the young male students left for the Civil War. Starting with eleven students, the school grew to have over 100 boarding students along with many other day students. The two women were able to take proprietorship of the academy. They went on to buy 20 more acres for the school and plant over 4,500 trees.
In 1896, Mrs. Frances Wood Shimer transferred the school to the University of Chicago and the Frances Shimer Academy operated here on the campus until 1978 when it was moved to Waukegan, Illinois. Currently the Campbell Center for Historic Preservation owns and operates the campus.
The original campus was destroyed by fire in 1905 and replaced by the complex of Georgian revival buildings standing today.
Judge Shaw served the citizens of Mount Carroll well. He was elected to four terms in the Illinois legislature and became the Speaker of the House in the 30th General Assembly. Also a lover of science, he was the assistant State Geologist for three years while surveying Northern Illinois. The architect, Joseph Lyman Silbee, is also known as an employer of Frank Lloyd Wright. He is known for his excellent picturesque designs.
Coming to Illinois from Chester Co., Pa., Owen Miles was a bookkeeper at the mill (#7) and purchased an interest in it. This house is a "sister" to the SJ. Campbell Sr. Home (#3), with the addition of an elaborate front porch. This home was given to the Carroll County Historical Society for a museum as a gift from SJ. Campbell II. (#26)
One of Mount Carroll's wealthiest and most prominent citizens. S.J. Campbell II was vice-president of the Carroll County State Bank at the time that this home was built. S.J. Campbell II contributed generously throughout his life to the Shimer College and to its successor, the Campbell Center for Historic Preservation Studies. This Tudor style home was designed by architect Carroll A. Klein
A member of an old and prominent local family, John W. Squires carried on his father's hardware and farm implement business, which was one of the largest stocks of every kind of hardware to be found in Northern Illinois. The Squires Hardware Co. once held the distinction of being the largest volume store in Mt. Carroll. This Queen Anne style home still retains its original hitching posts.
Coming to the area in 1857, Mr. John M. Stowell engaged in the hardware and agricultural implement business with his partner Mr. Blake (#20). He also had interests in three cheese factories in the county. In 1876 he was elected to serve a single term in the State Legislature. A written account in 1877 described his home as "a modern but unpretentious brick structure".
Arriving from Pennsylvania, blacksmith Hiram Colehour came to the area in 1854 and was the first of the Colehour family to settle here. His family's name had been associated with the Coleman-Colehour elevator for five generations. The grain elevator was founded in 1869 on the outside of town when the area was mostly wheat country.
Mr. Nelson Rinedollar came to Mt. Carroll with his family at the age of 10. He served as a volunteer in the service during the Civil War and then enlisted as a hospital steward for the U.S. Army. He then returned home and studied medicine at the Chicago Medical College , becoming a doctor and surgeon. He later became an examining physician for a number of life insurance.
Coming to Mount Carroll in 1847, James S. Hallett operated the local Hallett Brickyard (#10) along with his brother Bartlett. Bartlett married David Emmert's daughter and lived in the home next door to the south. James was a successful businessman, owning brickyards in Ogle and Jo Daviess Counties. He also was one of the original trustees of the Frances Shimer Academy (#23).
Capt. William H. Wildey was a decorated Civil War veteran. At one time during the Civil War , Capt. Wildey lent his watch to President Abraham Lincoln for 3 days on the battlefield because the President's watch had stopped working. After the war, he married and became the first grocer in Mt. Carroll to start a delivery wagon, buying salt and oil by the carload. He ran his successful grocery store for 59 years and retired in 1925. Wildey was the oldest member of the Masons in the State of Illinois when he died at the age of 102.
The Baptist Church is now standing on the highest point in Mount Carroll. This is the site where the founders of the soon to be formed county seat erected a stake on this "Baby Mountain" and proclaimed this to be "Mount Carroll". This site is on the original 13 acres used to create this new county seat, donated by Mr. Christian (# 2).