Above, a past Tour of Homes in Waukegan. The annual event helps fund programs at the Waukegan Historical Society and the Waukegan Park District. – Waukegan Historical Society
by Tina Johansson
It’s been 47 years since the first Tour of Homes was held in Waukegan. Robert V. Sabonjian was mayor then, in 1969, and it was just one year after the Waukegan Historical Society was formed, according Harry E. Came, society president.
If you haven’t experienced the splendor of some of these fine buildings at the tours in the past, you must make it a point to go. The next Waukegan Tour of Homes will take place Sunday June 26 from 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.
This year the tour features private residences at 945 N. Sheridan Road, 936 N. Sheridan Road, and 924 N. County Street.
Also on the list is St. Anastasia Catholic School at 629 W. Glen Flora Avenue offering special tours from 3 p.m. – 5 p.m. of the St. Anastasia Catholic Parish Sanctuary on the corner of Poplar Street and Douglas Avenue; as well as the Waukegan History Museum and Lilac Cottage, both located in Bowen Park at 1917 N. Sheridan Road.
Cost is $15 for advance tickets and $20 on the day of the tour.
Tickets are available at the Waukegan History Museum, 1917 N. Sheridan Road in Bowen Park, the Waukegan Historical Society’s Raymond Research Library in Lilac Cottage at 1911 N. Sheridan Road in Bowen Park, the Jack Benny Center at 39 Jack Benny Drive in Bowen Park, and the downtown Waukegan ACE Hardware at 239 N. Genesee Street.
The Tour of Homes is a self-guided tour that allows participants to go through the carefully chosen homes at their own pace.
“The tour is our main fund raising event each year and we are so pleased to partner with the Waukegan Park District and the City of Waukegan to share our beautiful homes and neighborhoods with both locals and those from other towns,” said Mr. Came, who noted several thousand dollars is usually raised which assists in the operation of the historical museum and its library, as well as partnering with the park district on events.
“We try to choose many different styles of homes that are lining the streets of our beautiful city. There are many large Victorian homes as well as early Greek Revival examples in the city.”
Came said among the surprises the historical society has discovered from the tours is the positive responses when mid-century modern homes are included on the tours.
“This year we are lucky to have two beautiful homes on Sheridan Road, one of which began as a farmhouse and the other a grand brick home with a tile roof, a newly renovated coach house , and water garden,” he said.
“There is also a great early 20th century American “foursquare” in the Craftsman style just a block from the other two. We also have the St. Anastasia School and Church open to the attendees as well as our own Waukegan History Museum and Lilac Cottage in beautiful Bowen Park, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.”
Came explained homes and other structures are often selected for the tours by personal connections with either the homeowner or another person who knows the homeowner.
“We are lucky to have so many beautiful homes and beautiful neighborhoods but it can be challenging to find homeowners who are willing to go through the work of preparing for the tour,” said Came. He explained any anxiety is soon gone when owners hear the encouraging feedback from others. “The homeowners talk about what a positive experience it is to share their homes with the public, and that it is done for a good cause,” he said.