Shelbyville CityWalk Presents – The Victorian Homes Architectural Tour
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)
Built 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)
C – “J. Thornton Herrick Home” (219 N Washington St)
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)
E – “The Walker House” (518 N Morgan St)
F – “The Scovil House” (822 N Broadway St)
G – “The W.S. Middlesworth House” (304 N Broadway St)
H – “The Truman E. Ames House” (219 N Broadway St)
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)
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)
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)
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.