Telling the Story of
1846 Blodgett House

Now the 1846 Blodgett House structure has been moved, preserved and gifted to the Park District, attention turns to the cultural heritage it embodies.  Click here to read our vision and approach to telling this story.

Museum staff members are now developing plans for exhibits, educational programs and tours.

An appropriate distribution of emphasis between four primary subject areas for exhibits and programing has been suggested to be as follows:

   35% Underground Railroad
   25% House Architecture,
      Construction & Preservation
   25% Early Blodgett Family Life
   15% Seasonal and Special

The first opportunity to visit inside the newly renovated 1846 Blodgett House was on Saturday December 14, 2019. The Merry and Bright event at the Downers Grove Museum then featured public tours inside the pioneer home as described on the Park District's website.

Additional funds received during 2019 allowed completion of interior construction work so the house can now be opened for public visits.

In June 2014 the Park District was notified that it received a state museum grant of $135,500 for help with interior restoration and interpretative exhibits. This grant was released in 2019 after  having been suspended for four years due to state budget problems.

In 2016, Lovejoy, Inc., a Timken brand, opened their world headquarters on Wisconsin Ave. and became a member of the Downers Grove community.

In October 2018 Park District received $50,000 from the Timken Foundation to support work on the 1846 Blodgett House.  This award was presented by Mat Happach of Lovejoy, Inc. 

Check out the Photo gallery
for Renovation Progress

The 1846 Blodgett House was built by Israel and Avis Blodgett. Not only does the house have architectural historical significance as the second or third oldest house in the Village, but it also has cultural significance as a stopover point on the Underground Railroad, recently included in the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom. The Downers Grove Heritage Preservation Corporation was founded  in 2007 with a mission to save and restore this historic house and create a museum focusing on the underground railroad. Having completed its mission, the group filed Articles of Dissolution with the Illinois Secretary of State on January 27, 2023.
                                Smart's 2019 Video Talk
1846 Blodgett House Overview

After the 1846 Blodgett House was restored to its mid-19th Century appearance the Downers Grove Park District accepted ownership of the House from the Heritage Preservation Corporation and terminated the District's lease agreement with the Corporation.

At the Park Board meeting on January 19, 2012,  President Charley Smart expressed gratitude to the Park District and the whole community for their great support.  He also presented our group's donation to the Park District of $5,000 to help with interior renovation efforts and spoke about our continuing volunteer involvement in this project. 

The Park District was advised in August 2012 of payment for a grant of $15,000 associated with costs in Phase 1 of the Blodgett House Renovation and other capital improvements. This grant from the Build Illinois Bond Fund was originally authorized in 2009.

A generous donation by the Illinois State Questers was matched with $2,000 in Park District funds thereby making possible installation of three exterior signs for the 1846 Blodgett House. Two of these new displays are pictured below.  Next time you come to Wandschneider Park be sure to look for this informative signage.

Israel &
                                Avis BlodgettBlodgett Family


 Updated September 17, 2023

Network to Freedom Celebration

The Downers Grove Museum is celebrating acceptance of the pioneer home of Israel and Avis Blodgett as an historic  site in the nationwide Network to Freedom   a National Park Service program coordinating preservation and education efforts associated with the Underground Railroad.

Join us from 1:00 to 2:30 on Saturday afternoon, September 23 to learn more about the Network to Freedom that now includes the 1846 Blodgett House, as well as other UGRR sites in DuPage County.

The 1846 Blodgett House will also be open for tours. To learn more please visit

Pioneer House Tours

Take a tour of the newly restored 1846 Blodgett House at the Downers Grove Museum.
Blodgett House ToursExplore the lives of Israel and Avis Blodgett & their participation in the Underground Railroad. The Blodgett family held abolitionist beliefs and are thought to have provided assistance to enslaved people prior to the Civil War.

Register for one of the tour dates this season at

Donor Reception

The Downers Grove Museum hosted a Donor Reception and Open House on July 14, 2022 to celebrate the completed restoration of the 1846 Blodgett House.
Donor Reception
Visitors enjoyed self-guided tours and refreshments. Speakers at the event included Park District  Executive Director Bill McAdam, Board President Cathy Mahoney, and Charley Smart, President of Downers Grove Heritage Preser-vation Corporation, which was recognized for its leading role in the preservation and restoration of this historic house.
Video of the event is posted at

A Centennial Home

The 1846 Blodgett House was honored as a Centennial Home by the Downers Grove Historical Society on Founders Day 2014.

Centenial Home Plaqu6

Blodgett House Details