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Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home

Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home
Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home is located in Illinois
Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home
Location 816 S. Hennepin Ave., Dixon, Illinois
Area less than one acre
Built 1891
Architectural style Queen Anne
Governing body Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home Preservation Foundation, Inc.
NRHP Reference # 82002580[1]
Added to NRHP March 26, 1982

The Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home is the house located at 816 South Hennepin Street, Dixon, Illinois, in which the late former President of the United States Ronald Reagan lived as a youth beginning in 1920. The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.


  • History 1
    • General 1.1
    • National Historic Site designation 1.2
  • Architecture and design 2
  • Historic significance 3
    • National Register significance 3.1
    • Reagan at the house 3.2
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • Further reading 6
  • External links 7



The Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home was constructed in Dixon, Illinois, in 1891; its design is fairly typical of American houses during the time period.[2] The house's original owners were William C. and Susan Thompson; it was eventually sold, in 1917.[2] The home's most significant period was between 1920 and 1923 and between 1975 and 1977 when it changed hands twice.[2] In August 1980 a group of local residents, led by Lynn Knights of Dixon, Illinois, purchased the home. The group was then known as the Reagan Home Preservation and Restoration Committee.[2]

National Historic Site designation

The home is open to the public and operated by the Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home Foundation. On February 6, 2002, (Public Law 107-137), the United States Secretary of the Interior was authorized to purchase the property from the foundation and establish a U.S. National Historic Site[3] under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service (NPS).[4][5] The law specifies that the site will not be designated as the Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home National Historic Site until after the Department of the Interior acquires the property.[4]

The legislation that became Public Law 107-137 was pushed through Congress by then-House Speaker Dennis Hastert over objections that the bill be delayed while the National Park Service conducted a study of the site.[5] In 2003 the Department of the Interior contracted private appraisals of the property which valued it at $420,000.[6] The appraisal was millions of dollars below the amount sought as fair value for the house by the owners, the Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home Preservation Foundation.[6] In late February 2003 the Reagan Boyhood Home Preservation Foundation formally rejected the government offer of $420,000 to turn the property into a National Historic Site, calling it insulting.[7]

Architecture and design

The 1891 house is cast in the popular Queen Anne style.[8] The 2 story house rests on a stone foundation and is topped with a gable roof which was originally covered with cedar shingles.[2]

Historic significance

National Register significance

The Reagan Boyhood Home is most significant as the home of 40th U.S. President Ronald Reagan and his family from late 1920 until 1923.[2] Reagan was nine years old at the time and in grade school. Though the family moved from the house they remained in Dixon throughout the former president's formative years.[2] For its association with Reagan and significance in the area of politics and government the building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places[9] on March 26, 1982.

Reagan at the house

According to the National Register of Historic Places documentation, Ronald Reagan stated that the house was associated with important events of his childhood.[2] However, his brother Neil was quoted as saying that the house designated the Boyhood Home is the "wrong one for Ronald's principal memories of the town (Dixon)."[10] One author, James E. Combs, called Dixon's claim that the "Boyhood Home" is the actual boyhood home of Ronald Reagan a bit bogus considering the Reagans moved often and only lived in the house for about two years.[11]

While they lived in the home the Reagan brothers shared a second-floor bedroom, despite the house having three bedrooms. Ronald's mother used the third as a work room.[12] The lone outbuilding on the property was used by the brothers for such activities as raising rabbits.[12] In the house's side yard Ronald and his brother would participate in pick-up football games.[12]

See also


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places.  
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Redebaugh, Caroline. "Ronald Reagan's Boyhood Home", National Register of Historic Places Inventory - Nomination Form, April 24, 1981, HAARGIS Database, Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, accessed January 22, 2009.
  3. ^ Not to be confused with the home's 1982 listing on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
  4. ^ a b "Public Law 137-107", February 6, 2002, 107th United States Congress, accessed January 20, 2009.
  5. ^ a b "Reagan turns 91", CBS News, February 6, 2002, accessed January 23, 2009.
  6. ^ a b Staff. "National Briefing - Midwest: Illinois: Cost Stalls Historic Site", The New York Times, January 11, 2003, accessed January 23, 2009.
  7. ^ Staff. "National Briefing - Midwest: Illinois: Owners Reject Offer For Reagan's Home", The New York Times, February 25, 2003, accessed January 23, 2009.
  8. ^ "Property Information Report - Reagan, Ronald, Boyhood Home", HAARGIS Database, Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, accessed January 22, 2009.
  9. ^ Not to be confused with the U.S. National Historic Site designation.
  10. ^ Cannon, Lou. President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime, (Google Books), PublicAffairs, 2000, p. 178, (ISBN 1891620916).
  11. ^ Combs, James E. Phony Culture: Confidence and Malaise in Contemporary America, (Google Books), Popular Press, 1994, p. 96, (ISBN 0879726687).
  12. ^ a b c Angelo, Bonnie. First Mothers: The Women Who Shaped the Presidents, (Google Books), HarperCollins, 2001, p. 312, (ISBN 0060937114).

Further reading

  • Misner, Marlin E. History of the Reagan Home: The Boyhood Home in Dixon, Illinois, S.N., 2005, (ISBN 0977142205).

External links

  • National Park Service testimony on proposed historic site
  • Reagan Boyhood Home, official site, accessed June 26, 2012.
  • House Report 107-268 - Authorizing the Secretary of the Interior to Establish the Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home National Historic Site, and for Other Purposes", (includes link to full information on H.R. 400),, accessed January 23, 2009.
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