Westmont, Illinois, is home to numerous museums and historical sites. This suburb of Chicago is home to nearly 25,000 people and has a rich history beginning with the Potawatomi Native Americans who once lived in the area. Later, French trappers and other explorers came to the area, creating settlements. Early development of Westmont began with the building of the Illinois-Michigan canal and eventually branch lines of the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad. To get a feel for the history of the Westmont, Illinois, area, enjoy exploring these nearby historical sites.
William L. Gregg House Museum
Image by David Wilson is licensed with CC BY 2.0
In 1871, a gentleman named William L. Gregg bought a prominent piece of property to create a brickyard, which became known as Gregg’s Station. Mr. Gregg built his home on this property using bricks from his brick-manufacturing company. Today, you can stop by this Victorian-era house built in 1872 to view the collection of furnishings, housewares, clothing, and appliances typical of a wealthy homeowner of that time. Visit the William L. Gregg House Museum to see the beautiful artifacts, brickwork, and to celebrate special seasonal events.
Location: 115 S. Linden Ave.
Days and times: Wednesdays and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
The Museums at Lisle Station Park
You’ll learn about the history of Lisle and Northern Illinois when you visit The Museums at Lisle Station Park. One of the main reasons this area of Northern Illinois thrived and boomed in the late 1800s was the introduction of the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad. In 1860, the railroad company built a railroad depot in Lisle, which became known as Lisle Station. In 1978, citizens of Lisle turned this historic train depot and the surrounding buildings into a collection called The Museums at Lisle Park.
The buildings include Beaubien Tavern, the Netzley-Yender House, the Barn and Blacksmith Shop, Lisle Depot, and the beautiful red CB&Q Way Car. Throughout the year, you can bring your family to The Museums at Lisle Station Park for special historical events or take blacksmithing classes. This historical site is a great place for school field trips where kids can take part in chores and games to learn about early pioneering life.
Location: 921 School St. in Lisle.
Days and times: Guided tours available Wednesday through Saturday by appointment 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Admission: Free with a suggested donation.
Downers Grove Park District Museum
You’ll have the opportunity to immerse yourself in early pioneering life in the Westmont area when you spend time at Downers Grove Park District Museum. This beautifully preserved museum is in a historic home at Wandschneider Park. This 4-acre park has the museum, the 1892 Blodgett House, 1864 Blodgett House, and the Annex Building. You can also walk through the wildflower and vegetable garden, and sit under the elegant gazebo to admire the view.
Inside the museum itself, you’ll see artifacts, furnishings, dishes, and artwork that represents the lifestyle of settlers in the Northern Illinois area. After exploring Downers Grove Park District Museum, head back to Westmont and enjoy dining at any of these plant-based restaurants.
Location: 831 Maple Ave. in Downers Grove.
Days and times: Tuesday through Thursday from noon to 4 p.m. and the second and fourth Saturday of the month from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Mitchell Museum of the American Indian
The Mitchell Museum of the American Indian is a premier museum housing a vast collection of art, jewelry, and artifacts from Native Americans across the United States and Canada. When you visit this striking museum, you’ll come away with a greater appreciation of the American Indian culture both past and present. As you stroll through this museum, you’ll see collections from the Paleo-Indian period through the present day from Native cultures from the Woodlands, Southwest, Plains, Northwest Coast, and Arctic regions of North America.
Exhibits and collections include intricate weavings, stunning pieces of jewelry, photographs, wooden canoes, and more. To get the most out of your visit to the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian, take a 90-minute docent-led tour. The docents can teach you cultural differences between the American Indians of geographic regions.
Location: 3001 Central St. in Evanston.
Days and times: Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. through 5 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. through 3 p.m.
Admission: Tribal members and Mitchell members: free. Those 65 and older: $5, adults (18-64): $7, children (3-17), $5, and children under 3: free.
Fullersburg Woods Nature Education Center
Your family can look for wildlife, view the skeleton of a 13,000-year-old wooly mammoth, and see a historic operating waterwheel grist mill when you stop at Fullersburg Woods Forest Preserve. This 220-acre preserve houses the fascinating Fullersburg Nature Education Center where everyone in the family can learn about the natural environment of the area. Join a nature program where volunteers teach you how to tap maple trees for syrup, help you identify local flora and fauna, and do other hands-on activities.
You won’t want to miss out on visiting the Graue Mill and Museum to see the gristmill and homestead. During select times, you can participate in programs that teach milling, weaving, and spinning just as the early settlers did. You’ll also see artifacts, tools, and machinery pioneers used in their daily lives. Inside the homestead, enjoy wandering through the pioneer kitchen, the Victorian parlor, and the child’s bedroom to get an up-close experience of a settler’s life.
Location: 3609 Spring Road in Oak Brook.
Days and times: Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Exploring museums and significant historical sites can help you and your family understand how Westmont and the surrounding area came to be. Which historic site is the most interesting to you and why? Is there a museum or historical place we missed you can recommend? If so, feel free to contact our team at Crème de la Crème of Westmont. We always enjoy learning about great museums to visit in our area.