If you’re a lover of presidential history you may have tried to find Ronald Reagan’s birthplace. The future Hollywood star and American president was born in an upstairs apartment building, located just above a bank in Tampico, Illinois.
You can stand in the room where Ronald Reagan first came into the world and peek out the very window his mother used to spend hours staring down at the town’s Main Street for cheap entertainment. (These were the days before the internet, TV, and even radio!) The apartment itself is actually quite spacious and Reagan himself came back to visit after his time in office. The small museum downstairs displays photos from his visit as well as lots of campaign memorabilia.
Take note of the adjoining window on the very back side of the apartment. The former president commented that as a child he’d crawl through the window into the neighbors home to visit. Apparently, he recreated that scene during his visit.
The town of Tampico is lovely and small. There’s not much on Main Street but the people are super friendly and welcoming. I was greeted by at least a half dozen strangers in the 30 minutes I spent in town.
About 30 minutes or so north of Tampico is the town of Dixon. Reagan lived in quite a few homes during his childhood but the Dixon home was purchased and saved about the time locals realized he was probably going to be elected to The White House.
Inside you’ll be able to walk through the entire house and see his bedroom, complete with memorabilia on the wall depicting the sports and other interests he enjoyed as a kid.
Reagan moved frequently as a child but his time in this particular home in Dixon helped shape his personality and was a place he spoke of fondly throughout his life and career. While you visit the home, a tour guide will share stories about the Reagan family and the home itself. While much of the furniture on display didn’t actually belong to the family, one special piece did belong to the family. A small rocking chair in the guest bedroom is said to have been used by a young Ronald Reagan.
Across from the Dixon house is a small park and a statue of the former president. There are several other stops in the Dixon area that pay homage to Reagan including a section of the Berlin Wall, his childhood church, the local library, and an additional statue downtown. Lowell Park on the Rock River is where a young Reagan served as a lifeguard for seven years and wound up saving the lives of 77 swimmers during the time he worked there.
Admission to the birthplace museum in Tampico is free with donations accepted. The fee to tour the Reagan childhood home in Dixon is $8.00 for adults. A Visitors Center next door is free with some small exhibits and a gift shop.
For more information including tour schedule you can visit their official website: The Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home