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Walking tour highlights Sycamore’s finest

Published: Sunday, July 6, 2014 11:04 p.m. CDT
(Jessi Haish – jhaish@shawmedia.com)
Local historian Steve Bigolin (right) talks Sunday about the historic home at 432 Somonauk St. in Sycamore during the Sycamore History Museum's walking tour of Somonuauk Street homes. Bigoin said the homes in the 400 block of Somonauk Street are the most prestigious homes on the street. The architecture styles on the street span more than 100 years.

SYCAMORE – Steve Bigolin is always happy to talk about one of his favorite homes in Sycamore, which features a gate with a spiderweb design to fit the city's love of autumn and the Pumpkin Festival.

"It just has tremendous architecture," Biglon said of the home at 420 Somonauk St. "I love the style and it has a beautiful interior."

On Sunday, the Sycamore History Museum offered a walking tour of more than a dozen buildings, including homes and churches along Somonauk Street. Bigolin, local historian and Sycamore History Museum volunteer, led the tour from the sidewalks of Somonauk Street, discussing prominent past homeowners and the architecture that could be seen from the outside.

"We joke that Steve has a computer inside his brain," said Jayne Higgins, board member for the Sycamore History Museum. "He just pulls out some files and can give you dates, names and everything else."

Bigolin said he has been giving these walking tours since 2006. Sunday's tour was the one of the first historical district walking tours of the summer, and there will be tours of Sycamore Main Street, as well as downtown, later in the summer.

While talking about specific homes along the street, Bigolin shared various facts about the area. He said many homes in the 1800s featured picket fences. Even though the homes along Somonauk were considered part of the city, the picket fences prevented roaming livestock from trampling the grounds around the homes.

He also said when viewing areas of a historic district, seeing empty lots or parking lots is a good indicator that something has been torn down or removed at one point. Many porches along Somonauk also have been rebuilt, since they do not tend to last very long, Bigolin said.

The home at 827 Somonauk St. was highlighted for its unique past. Bigolin said when one of the last owners passed, it was left in a will to leave the house to Sycamore for a museum.

"The city of Sycamore wasn't ready to take on a museum project," Bigolin said. "The gift was not accepted, so it was sold."

A pond in the back of the home, which has been there for more than 200 years, is believed to have once been used as a watering hole for buffalo, Bigolin said. Down the road, the home at 421 Somonauk St., features a former outhouse, which is now used for a shed.

"The architecture in this area spans 100 years," Bigolin said. "It's a beautiful historic district."

Learn more

For information on upcoming Sycamore History Museum events and walking tours, call 815-895-5762 or visit sycamorehistory.org.

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