Northwest Territory Historic Center
Located in the hometown of U.S. President Ronald Reagan, the Northwest Territory Historic Center (formerly known as the Dixon Historic Center) is a history research and learning center and a Smithsonian Institution affiliate. It occupies a 1908 building that was, in Reagan’s day, South Central School, where he attended fifth, sixth and seventh grades. Granite floors, wide halls, expansive stairways, high ceilings and ornate woodwork provide a rich backdrop to the history represented here.
Beautifully restored with the dedicated support of the townspeople and Reagan colleagues at the behest of the hometown hero, the Center houses the Veterans History Project Regional Center, an auditorium, an art gallery, a research library, surround-sound theater and museum store, in addition to its many historical exhibits. Visitors can peruse the President Reagan History Room, filled with personal Dixon and presidential memorabilia donated by Reagan; Walgreen History Room, in honor of the drugstore founder who lived on an estate in Dixon; Abraham Lincoln History Room (as a young lieutenant, Lincoln was bivouacked in Dixon along the banks of the Rock River during the Black Hawk War); Reagan’s restored sixth-grade classroom, originally identified by Reagan during one of his visits; local Chautauqua history; and more.
The Northwest Territory Historic Center recently opened two new permanent exhibits that highlight regional Native American life and early American farming and include speaking, life-like figures.
The Center is open Tue.-Sat. 9 a.m.-4 p.m., and admission is free.