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On May 1, 1980, the Sterling Park District received ownership of the Paul W. Dillon home, 1003 E. Third Street, Sterling, Illinois, which included 5.45 acres of land and a brick barn.

Since that time, the grounds have been restored through the help of the Illinois Young Adult Conservation Corps, the exterior of the home painted, extensive painting and redecorating done on the interior of the home.

The Paul W. Dillon home was built by Col. Edward N. Kirk in 1857 and architecturally is of the Italian Renaissance period. There were thirty-three owners of the property dating back to Nelson Mason in 1841 and after the home was constructed by Col. Kirk in 1857, there were eleven owners of the home up until the time Washington M. Dillon purchased the home from Joseph Patterson in 1882.

Paul W. Dillon, son of Washington M. Dillon was born in the home on June 3, 1883 and resided in the home until his passing on February 25, 1980 at the age of ninety-six years.

It was a consensus of the heirs of the Dillon family to turn the fourteen room mansion, with all its memorabilia, furniture and artifacts, over to the Sterling Park District for future generations to enjoy. This transfer was made to the Sterling Park District on May 1, 1980.

The Paul W. Dillon home opened to the general public on November 18, 1980 and since that time over 5,000 people have visitied this historic site. The home-museum, left intact upon Mr. Dillon's passing, features $275,000.00 in artifacts and collector's items.

The home is open to the general public on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 10:00 A.M. until noon and again from 1:00 until 4:00 P.M. Sunday the museum is open from noon until 5:00 P.M. Wednesday's and Friday's the home is open for group tours from 10:00 until noon and from 1:00 until 4:00 P.M. The home is closed to the public for cleaning purposes on Monday.

The Paul Dillion Home Museum


Pictured left to right: Norman Smalley, Elmhurst; Jim Liston, Governor's Council for Physical Fitness; Connie Skibbe, Highland Park; Ken Kutska, Wheaton; Jim Hayward, Illinois State Nurserymen's Association; Patrick Grealish, Salt Creek Rural in Palatine; Senator John Davidson, Springfield; Fred Wayland, Wheaton; Smokey the Bear; Leonard Kapacinskas, Kewanee; Marilyn Malles, Wilmette; Robert Nichols, Bensenville; Peter Murphy, IAPD, Springfield; and Don Prindle, DuPage County Forest Preserve.

Pictured left to right (background): Norman Smalley, Elmhurst; Don Prindle, DuPage County Forest Preserve; Marilyn Malles, Wilmett. Pictured left to right (foreground): Ken Kutska, Wheaton, and Smokey the Bear.

Pictured left to right: Ted Flickinger, IAPD, Springfield; Patrick Grealish, Salt Creek Rural, Palatine; Senator John Davidson, Springfield; Fred Wayland, Wheaton, and Smokey the Bear.

See Potpourri Page 22

Illinois Parks and Recreation 12 May/June 1981

POTPOURRI... From Page 12


The Paul W. Dillon home barn has been restored by the Sterling Park District for the Sterling-Rock Falls Historical Society which plans to open the local history museum later this spring. The barn's first floor and second floor was completely restored and features 3,000 square feet of display area for local history. The barn was built by Colonel Edward N. Kirk in 1859 and, like the home, is a historic landmark in Sterling.

The Paul W. Dillon Home Museum features various gifts and souvenirs for sale, including decorative plates, post cards, note paper, collector's spoons, along with a book authored by Frank Duis, Director of Parks and Recreation for the Sterling Park District which features a history of the Dillon family along with pictures of memorabilia and artifacts in the home.

Mrs. Linda Bruns is curator of the Paul W. Dillon Home Museum and is assisted by volunteer docents from the Sterling-Rock Falls area.

The Paul W. Dillon Home Museum was added to the National Register of Historic Places on October 9, 1980 by the United States Department of the Interior.

The last of a kind.


On January 19, 1981, steam engine #73, the last locomotive to operate in the United States and used at Northwestern Steel & Wire Company in Sterling, was moved to the south lawn of the Paul W. Dillon Home Museum in honor of the man who kept the idea alive for an additional twenty years.

The 1929 Baldwin locomotive, purchased nearly forty years ago from the Gulf Trunk Western Railroad, was used along with other locomotives 365 days a year by Northwestern Steel & Wire Company to switch cars and for hauling scrap to the furnaces.

Recently, #73 and other steam locomotives were replaced by diesel equipment due to the high cost of operating the steamers which were converted to fuel oil operation.

Paul W. Dillon, President and Chairman of the Board of Northwestern Steel & Wire Company, kept the steam engine alive here in Sterling for an additional twenty years after it became common knowledge that steam locomotives were obsolete as early as 1960.

Engine #73 was towed by a diesel from the Northwestern Steel & Wire Company yards on January 19, 1981 to a point on the Chicago-Northwestern Transportation Lines opposite the Dillon Home grounds where it was lifted, using four cranes, and transported some 75 yards to its final resting place on the south lawn of the Paul W. Dillon Home Museum.

Steam Engine #73 was phased out of service at Northwestern Steel and Wire Company at 10:00 am on December 3, 1980.


The Homewood-Flossmoor park district has received a grant from the Illinois Arts Council for $1,000 to be applied to the On the Road traveling summer theatre troupe. The $1,000 will cover the expenses of the director's and wagon driver's salaries, scripts, production costs, supplies, and the wagon maintenance.

Lynn Gaby, the recreation supervisor who supervises the theatre program and applied for the grant, indicates the program has always run at a deficit. 1980 Adopt-A-Program sponsors, Washington Square Mall, McDonalds, and Manny Hoffman State Farm Insurance, helped to offset this annual deficit. The combination of the grant and sponsors will allow this free community program hold its own financially.

On the Road travels to four different park sites, four nights a week for six consecutive weeks. A salaried coordinator directs a cast of 15 to 20 volunteer actors and actresses. Performing a new play each week, rehearsals follow the nightly performance.

The actors and actresses range in age from nine up. Performing and practicing five nights a week, the six week program is an intensive experience in theatre.

The director of the program has the option to purchase playwrights or to string together skits and acts the performers create or extrapolate from contemporary themes. Costumes are put together from items donated and dollars budgeted for this part of the productions.

On the Road is not a new program. The Homewood-Flossmoor park district has been subsidizing this traveling theatre since 1976. David B. Colmar, director of the park district, indicates the Homewood-Flossmoor park district is one of several park districts throughout the state that has received a grant from the Illinois Arts Council.

Attendance figures have ranged from thirty to 100 people per site per show and the actors have shown their creative talents by making homemade costumes and props and by utilizing audience imagination. Community involvement and support for On the Road has kept it a viable summer program.

"As the big, yellow show wagon travels through a neighborhood the families emerge from their homes with their blankets and lawn chairs tucked under their arms. It might be compared to a pied piper. It's a heartwarming scene to watch," relates Ms. Gaby.

The 1981 summer season of performances will begin in mid-June at the Homewood-Flossmoor park district, with community, state and national dollars to support the program.

Illinois Parks and Recreation 22 May/June 1981


December 15, 1980, the Westwood Indoor Track Complex was turned over to the Sterling Park District.

Built in 1975 by Peter W. Dillon, this 160' x 316' facility features four indoor tennis courts, four basketball courts, four volleyball courts, areas for golf and baseball instruction, along with a six-lane 220 yard indented tartan track complete with all field facilities.

The Sterling Park District has been instrumental in operating the facility since it went into existence in 1975 with such programs as basketball leagues, volley-ball leagues, jogging, golf instruction and other activities.

The Westwood Indoor Track Complex sits on 4.431 acres of land which is a part of the gift to the Sterling Park District bringing the District's acreage to over 400 acres of park land in twenty (20) park sites.

Illinois Parks and Recreation 23 May/June 1981

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