Perry Farm is a winning visit for the family.
Bourbonnais Illinois is the home of the Perry Farm. Today it is listed by the National Park Service of the Dept of the Interior in the National Register of Historic Places. But it wasn't always like that.
In 1835, Thomas Durham moved his wife and family of five daughters and four sons to Bourbonnais Grove,IL, about 60 miles south of Chicago on property on the banks of the Kankakee River. He built a farmhouse and a three bay English barn and a horse barn. Legend is the farmhouse cellar was part of the Underground Railroad. Thomas died in 1854 and left the farm to his sons. He generously left his daughters $5 each. The sons were not successful farmers and by 1866 had fallen on hard times financially and were looking to sell the farm. One sister, Martha had married David Perry in 1845 and David offered to buy the farm, pulling the cash out of a money belt he carried on him. Martha's mother was allowed to live in the farm as long as she lived. The Perry's decided to try and attract travelers on the way to Chicago to their farm for horse boaarding and lodging. But there was one problem. Another road on the east side of their property was taking travelers past their farm without stopping. To fix this problem, they proceeded to cut down a bunch a trees and block the other road, forcing those travelers to use the only road available, the one that went by their farm. Business was good, several more buildings were added. David was also a saw mill owner, providing sawn lumber locally for customers instead of them having to travel to Chicago.
David died in 1887, leaving the farm to his wife, who died 6 months later. The last remaining heir to the farm, Lomira Perry, died in 1961. She left the farm in a trust to the Illinois Dept of Conservation. The State of Illinois awarded the Perry Farm to the Bourbonnais Park District in 1988. In March 2006, it was listed in the Register of Historic Places.
Exploration Station Children's Museum
Bike trails from Perry Farm to the river.
Kankakee River, cleanest river in Illinois.
Today, the Perry Farm is one of the best local features for many outdoor activities. Bike and walking trails, kids playground, Children's Exploration Station museum, the Perry farmhouse exhibit, the old barns, small petting animal farm, picnic gazebo and concert and local theatre events. Other than the museum, it's all free or almost free.
How do I know all these fun facts? I am a local tour guide for the Perry Farm open visit day in May every year.
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