Dixon Walking Tour
Explore Dixon through young Ronald Reagan's footsteps to understand the people, places, and events that shaped him into a man of character and the 40th president of the United States.
Today, although Dixon has changed in the century since the young Ronald Reagan lived here, it has maintained its status as an inviting and peaceful midwestern town. Neighbor continues to help neighbor, and the community comes together when times are tough.
We hope you enjoy your tour around President Reagan’s hometown.
A special thank you to YAF intern scholars David Swegle and Alex Buchheit for completing much of the groundwork and to the Lee County Historical and Genealogical Society for helping track down many of the historic images and locations.
The Reagan Walk
810 S Hennepin Ave., Dixon, IL, 61021The Reagans moved here in 1920. Though the Reagans lived in several homes during their time in Dixon, this was the first. From the ages of nine to twelve, Ronald Reagan developed a love of football while playing in the side yard with neighbors. Life in Dixon shaped the future President into a young man of faith, character, and integrity. Today, visitors of the home can participate in guided tours to learn more about “Dutch’s” life in Dixon and enjoy the newly update exhibits in the Visitor Center next door.
205 W 5th St, Dixon, IL 61021A quick walk from his home on Hennepin, here stands the school young Reagan attended before transitioning to high school on the north side of the river. Though he was an average student, Reagan had an exceptional memory. Here, at South Central Grammar School, he attended grade school and met a key mentor in his life, BJ Frazer, who would serve as a significant role model and father figure for young Reagan.
221 S Hennepin Ave, Dixon, IL 61021Ronald Reagan, a voracious reader, checked out over one hundred books a year from the Dixon Library. The future President spent hours reading, and he particularly loved rags-to-riches stories.
In a letter to “friends of the library” in 1995, he wrote, “a library has a single overriding purpose, to connect us with the people and places, ideas and experiences that enrich our lives and deepen our humanity.”
123 S Hennepin Ave, Dixon, IL 61021Prior to moving to Dixon, Roanld Reagan’s Mother, Nelle, had already joined the Disciples of Christ Church by letter, but once in Dixon, Nelle brought her sons with her to church every Sunday and made sure they attended Sunday school. Eventually, Ronald grew up to teach his own Sunday school class.
On June 21, 1922 at the age of 11, Ronald Reagan was baptized here, along with his brother Neil and 23 other congregants. The church has a special archive dedicated to the Reagans and still uses the same baptismal the President was raised in.
201-299 W River St, Dixon, IL 61021This statue, Begins the Trail, commemorates the return of Dixon’s Hollywood movie star during Injun Summer Days in the summer of 1950, as well as the start of his trail from the small town of Dixon to the White House.
The statue, created by local sculptor Donald L Reed, today is modeled after a picture of taken of “Dutch” during the parade