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Shelbyville Illinois CityWalk Tour Series – Victorian Homes Architectural Tour

Shelbyville Illinois CityWalk Tour Series – Victorian Homes Architectural Tour 2017-01-29T14:35:02+00:00

Shelbyville CityWalk Presents –                       The Victorian Homes Architectural Tour

VH Cover

About the Victorian Homes

There are few cities of its size in Illinois that have as many rich and elegant private residences as Shelbyville.  The Shelbyville Historic District was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on December 22, 1976, and includes most of the original town of 1827. There are several significant masonry homes in the district.  The greatest number of historic homes, from the mid-19th century until the time of World War I, are Italianate.  French Second Empire and Romanesque are represented.  Queen Anne and Victorian styles are widespread as well.

In the 19th and 20th centuries, local businesses flourished, industries were introduced, and the prominent quietly built their stately homes along Main, Broadway, Morgan and Washington Streets.  By 1880, after a twenty-year period of bustling activity, the city took its present shape.

This tour is based on A Journey Through the Historic Homes and Buildings of Shelbyville, Illinois, published by the Shelby County Historic and Genealogical Society.  To see beautiful illustrations of many of the homes featured on this tour, visit the Shelbyville Public Library along the tour and take a look at Elegant Homes from a Past Era by Joann VanDeventer Durbin.

Enjoy! Let Shelbyville residents take you on this tour. 


A – “J. Thornton Herrick House” (201 N Washington St)

1a-201 N. WashingtonBuilt during the Civil War Reconstruction Era, the Herrick home was completed in December 1893. J. Thornton Herrick came to Shelbyville in 1850 and was a local financier and land developer.  This house was Herrick’s first rental property, built at a cost of $4,000.  It was designed in the style of the Italianate Townhouse. Current owner and her late husband Michael purchased the house in 1973 and extensive restoration was done to modernize the home while preserving its historic beauty. Hear more about this historic home here. Current owner: Janet Murphy


B – “John W. Yantis Home” (207 N Washington St)
2b-207 N. Washington
This Folk Victorian house was built by J. Thornton Herrick, and purchased by John W. Yantis in 1883 as it was near completion.  It has a decorated hipped roof with wood fish scale shingles.  The round tower with decorative garlands was added after Mr. Yantis purchased the home. The home has remained in the Yantis family for over 130 years. Hear more about this historic home here and the modernization of the home here. You can also listen to an audio about the historic home next door hereCurrent owners: Thom and Liz (Yantis) Schafer


C – “J. Thornton Herrick Home” (219 N Washington St)
3c-219 N. Washington

This was the first house built on the block.  The Second Empire design is an example of a European-influenced architectural movement that swept the United States from 1860 to 1880.  Over the last century, the exterior has changed very little.  The front door is four inches thick, and is 450 pounds of oak with walnut trim.  Later, this was the home of Judge Edward C. Eberspacher and family.  See the historic photograph here and an old postcard image here.  You can also hear the audio about this home here. Current owners: Dr. Russell and Nancy Bodner.


D – “General W. Thornton Home” (121 E North 2nd St)
4d-121 E.N. 2nd color
This was the home of one of the most influential and prominent men to have lived in Shelbyville.  General Thornton served as Captain of the Calvary in the War of 1812.  He was also a member of the Whig Party. General Thornton moved to Shelbyville in 1833 and engaged in merchandising, banking, and brokerage. Beginning in 1834, he served in the State Legislature, and was one of the original Commissioners of the Illinois and Michigan Canal. General Thornton died two years before the Italianate house was completed in 1875.  Listen to the audio about this home here and see the historic photograph hereCurrent owner: American Legion Unit 81.


E – “The Walker House” (518 N Morgan St)
5e-518 N. Morgan
Built in 1893 by Wallace E. Walker, the house is of the Victorian Queen Anne Style with spindle work and a wrap-around porch.  Mr. Walker was respected as one of the most spirited and enterprising citizens of Shelbyville.  He began as a farmer, and went on to serve several years as Township Supervisor and County Treasurer.  Afterward, he successfully pursued a career in real estate and the stock market.  The house was next occupied by his son, C. Earl Walker, and wife, Ruby.  The house remained in the Walker family for more than 80 years.  Listen to the audio about this home here. Current owners: Larry and Dorothy Dilley.


F – “The Scovil House” (822 N Broadway St)
6f-822 N. Broadway
This house was built in 1872 by the prominent miller and land owner, Charles C. Scovil.  In 1867, he erected the largest flour mill in the west here in Shelbyville.  The Italianate Victorian home was remodeled in 1966 by Dr. Wiseheart, who replaced the original long narrow porch with a two-story columned porch to give the home a more stately appearance.  The current owners purchased the house in 1992. Listen to the audio about this home hereCurrent owners: Dr. Rick and Hope Brown.


G – “The W.S. Middlesworth House” (304 N Broadway St)
7g-304 N. Broadway color
President William Howard Taft once stayed here.  This house was built in 1909 by architects Spencer and Powers in the Prairie Tudor Style. The house was purchased by Mr. Middlesworth, who was one of the leaders of the City’s business community; he was a major landowner, and president of the First National Bank, Shelby Loan and Trust.  Listen to the audio about this home here and see the historic photograph here. Current owners: John and Barb Shambo.


H – “The Truman E. Ames House” (219 N Broadway St)
8h-219 N. Broadway

Built circa 1890 by Truman and Dora Ames, this house is of the Queen Anne Style.  The red granite was brought in from Ames’ family home in St. Lawrence County, New York.  Mr. Ames moved to Illinois in 1871, and began reading law under Moulton and Chafee in Shelbyville.  He was admitted to the bar in 1877 and became a prominent lawyer of Shelby County for several years.  Previous owner, Lena Monti, used to rent the house to the Sparks College girls.  Listen to the audio about this home here. Current owners: Troy and Rebecca Throneburg


I – “The Tackett House” (216 N Broadway St)
9i-216 N. Broadway

This Victorian home was built in 1875 by Mr. Tackett.  It has locally cut walnut trim, beveled glass windows, and the original brass and copper light fixtures.  Mr. John A. Tackett was a native of Shelbyville.  Born here in 1832, he later became the vice-president of the Shelby County State Bank.  Listen to the audio about this historic home here and the home next door here. Current owner: Jacqueline Eberspacher


J – “The Cochran House” (148 S Broadway St)
10j-148 S. Broadway

This house was built circa 1875.  In 1886, in a woodshed at the back of the property, Josephine Cochran invented the first automatic dishwasher.  Her invention won the highest award at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago.  The patent was later sold to KitchenAid®.  Details can be found at the stone marker on site.   Listen to the audio about this historic home here and see the historic postcard drawing here.  You can also here about Shelbyville’s first historic homes tour here. Current owner: Joanne Bogart


K – “Dr. J.C. Westervelt House” (301 S Broadway St)
11k-301 S. Broadway

Built circa 1875, this Victorian home has a wrap-around porch and a rear sun-porch.  Dr. J.C. Westervelt lived to be 100 years old, and was a practicing physician for 75 of them.  He served four successive terms as Mayor of Shelbyville, and helped to establish the lake and the auditorium at Forest Park.  Listen to the audio about this historic home here. Current owners: Clint and Leslie Richter


Learn More About Victorian Homes in Shelbyville

There are many more beautiful historic homes listed in the book and around town.  Visit the Shelby County Historic and Genealogical Society (217-774-2260) on Tuesday 5pm-7pm, Wednesday and Saturday 9am-12pm or email them at [email protected] for details.  For information on all CityWalk tours, please contact Shelby County Tourism (217-774-2244), and USACE Lake Shelbyville Visitor Center (217-774-3951).

A printable PDF version of this tour is available here.

Photos Courtesy of Donna Lupton, SCHGS
Special Thanks to:
City of Shelbyville, USACE Lake Shelbyville, Shelby County Historical and Genealogical Society, Shelbyville High School Welding Team, Shelby County Tourism/Lake Shelbyville Area CVB, Greater Shelbyville Chamber of Commerce, ShelbyvilleWorks!, Economic Development Council of Shelby County, Shelbyville Industrial Development, Corner Copy, Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, Lake Land College and IIRA: Western Illinois University.