The Graham Historical House, located at 117 N. Dixie Highway, is a special attraction to residents and visitors who appreciate the preservation of our community's past.
The City of Momence purchased this unique property, built in 1869, in the summer of 1973. At the time, the house seemed destined to be demolished and the land to become a downtown parking lot. Members of the Momence Women's Club approached then Mayor Rex Rowe and the City Council with a proposal to preserve the house in order to create a small museum, as testament to its location and historical significance. By December of 1974, the Historical House renovations, including fresh exterior painting, landscaping, and interior decorations, were completed and a grand opening took place.
Over the past forty years, numerous historical house board members, volunteers, city workers, and contractors continued to address house maintenance issues and provide weekend viewing opportunities and special events. Unfortunately, over the years, house maintenance and repair needs fell from the list of governmental priorities, as limited finances and budget constraints took precedence. In the late 1990's, City Officials were faced with costs for a new roof, and discussion resurfaced on the question of whether to raze, sell, or repair the home. Ultimately, both public and private funding was acquired, and the house remains an important part of the city's history.
This beautiful Italianate style home, along with many other buildings in downtown Momence, has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 2006, an accomplishment of Main Street Momence.
In 2013, the house was renamed the Graham Historical House in honor of the original builder and owner, William Graham. Also, in the late summer of 2013, fresh renovations to the exterior and the interior of the house began. First, the replacement of damaged wood siding, priming, and painting brought about a sharp, clean look to the historic exterior. Also, the scraping, sanding, priming, and painting of the picket fence accentuates the entrance to the Graham Historical House grounds. Interior renovations, with repairs to plaster walls and wainscoting, painting and wallpapering, and new flooring were completed in November, 2014. These restorations would not have been possible without the generous donations of the Van Drunen Family.
As British Architect, Graeme Shankland wrote "A country without a past has the emptiness of a barren continent; and a city without old buildings is like a man without a memory." The Graham Historical House: an old building; an integral part of the history of our community; and a destination for residents and visitors to experience memories of its past.
The Graham Historical House reopened on December 6, 2014.
Below is a video representation of the Graham Historic House, as filmed by Chris Tocke for the Kankakee County Convention & Visitors Bureau.