Paul W. Dillon Home
Col. Edward N. Kirk House
The rear elevation of the Kirk House.
|NRHP reference #||80001417|
|Added to NRHP||October 9, 1980|
The Paul W. Dillon Home, also known as the Colonel Edward N. Kirk House, is located in Sterling, Illinois. It was home to businessman P.W. Dillon, who was the president of Northwestern Steel & Wire Company for many of its most successful years. The home was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. The house is currently operated as a museum by the Sterling Park District, and is also available to rent as a wedding venue and for other events.
Dating back to Nelson Mason in 1841 the property has 33 owners. The home on today's property was constructed in 1857 by Colonel Edward N. Kirk and is cast in the Italianate style. After Kirk built the home in 1857 the property was owned by eleven different people until Washington M. Dillon purchased it from Joseph Patterson in 1882.
Dillon's son, Paul W. Dillon, was born in the house on June 3, 1883 and resided there until his death in February 1980. It was the consensus of the Dillon family heirs, after Paul W. died, that the home, its furnishings and all of its artifacts be turned over to the Sterling Park District for future generations to enjoy. The home was transferred to the park district on May 1, 1980. The Paul W. Dillon Home-Museum opened to the general public on 18 November 1980. Between November 1980 - May 1981 over 5,000 people visited the house. The museum is open for regular tour times and also available for private group tours. A new display showcases the original owners, Edward and Eliza Kirk, and the builder of the home, Edwin Allen. Kirk actually rose to the rank of Brigadier General shortly before his death as result of being shot at the Battle of Stone's River in Murfreesboro, TN. Four Brigadier Generals lost their lives as a result of that battle.
The Dillon legacy began generations ago when P.W.'s great-great-great grandfather, Moses, started the first iron forge near Zanesville, Ohio around 1808. From there, the Dillon men worked in and pioneered new technologies in the industrial metal manufacturing business. P.W. went on to built the largest electric arch furnace in the world with the help of his chief engineer, Charlie Bosco. P.W. was a hold-out for steam power, refusing to move over to diesel engines, despite them taking over as switch engines as early as the 1950s. In fact, the 1929 Baldwin engine that sits on the grounds was the last daily-fired working steam engine in the entire United States. People used to come from all over the world to watch the switch steam engines at Northwestern.
From Civil War Brigadier General Kirk who first called it home, to all of the original Dillon belongings, a true reflection of P.W.'s wife, Crete, who was a world traveler and had a keen eye for collecting eclectic pieces, to the architecture and the train, The Dillon Home Museum is steeped in history.
Sterling-Rock Falls Historical Society Museum
The Sterling-Rock Falls Historical Society Museum, located in the original carriage house and barn, traces local history from prehistoric days to the modern industrial era. The collection and exhibits include items related to medicine, community history, Abraham Lincoln, Civil-War, local industries and businesses etc. .
- Sterling Park District: Dillon Home Museum
- Sterling-Rock Falls Historical Society
- Potpourri: Illinois Parks and Recreation 12 May/June 1981
- National Register of Historic Places: Whiteside County, Illinois