Visitors Guide to the
Victorian Home Museum

701 East Washington Street
Belleville, Illinois
618-234-0600

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On a tree-lined avenue one block south of Main Street in the Old Belleville Historic District sits the Victorian Home Museum. The home was donated to the St. Clair County Historical Society in 1963 by a wealthy local woman, Mrs. Henry Lengfelder, and opened in 1968 after the Society raised approximately $50,000 for the necessary renovation of the building. Morris Dobschutz, a German immigrant who became a successful businessman in Belleville, built the home in 1866. Architecturally, the home was built in the Greek Revival style, which dominated American architecture during the early 19th century because of its strong associations with classical tradition and democracy and the floor plan is typical of homes of the period with two rooms on each side of a central hall.

Each room of the museum features 19th century furnishings, with many of the pieces being made by local craftsmen, and most rooms have been arranged to show off collections that illustrate what each room would have been like in a typical Victorian era home. On the first floor is the parlor (photo right,) which was used for formal entertaining, and is furnished with a large rosewood piano, a sofa, and several chairs. Visitors will notice that the furniture sits much lower to the floor, as people were much shorter at that time. The dining room is well furnished with a large walnut drop-leaf table, an American Empire sideboard of cherry and mahogany, a walnut butler’s desk, and a walnut dish cupboard that contains many unusual and rare pieces of china. The library was originally used as a living room for the family but now contains the historical archives of the Society and a small gift shop. Three huge Victorian era walnut bookcases, a Lincoln-type walnut desk, and a Renaissance Revival walnut table with a leather top are features of this room. The fourth room now provides office space for the Society but has several paintings of the home as it was in the 19th century and shows how the property once extended all the way to Main Street and was beautifully landscaped.

Three rooms on the second floor have been furnished. A large Renaissance type bed that was made in France and was awarded a blue ribbon at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893 dominates the master bedroom. An ornate 3-piece walnut set, composed of a bed, dresser, and washstand and a fainting sofa complete the room. The children’s room features a trundle bed that uses rope strings instead of slats to support a mattress filled with feathers. A large variety of children’s toys, all of which are made of either metal or wood, can been seen as well as a unique turn of the century high chair that doubled as a stroller. The exhibit room (photo right) contains a number of different artifacts and curiosities from St. Clair County’s past. Perhaps the most unusual are the wreaths and small displays made from the hair that women used to collect from their brushes. Rotating displays of clothing and accessories can be seen on mannequins throughout the museum.
 
 The museum is operated by the nonprofit St. Clair County Historical Society which also uses the home as the Society’s administrative office and as a research center. Information regarding the Society or using the research center can be found on the Society’s website which is listed below.
 
The Victorian Home Museum is an excellent way to experience the lifestyle of a prosperous Victorian family. The St. Clair County Historical Society also operates the Emma Kunz House which illustrates the lifestyle of a typical mid 19th century working class family.

Visiting the Victorian Home Museum
     Visiting Hours
          Monday - Friday 10 am to 2 pm
          Sunday 2 pm - 4 pm
An admission is charged to visit the Victorian Home Museum: Adults: $2, Children $1. Group tours by appointment.


Directions: The Victorian Home Museum is located one block south of Main Street in the downtown Belleville area and east of Illinois Street (IL-159)

GPS Coordinates
N  38  30.758
W 89  58.600
 


Visit the greatriverroad.com art trail section for more art related attractions and events in the Middle Mississippi River Valley.

Learn more about the Belleville area.


stcchs.org - is the official website of the St. Clair County Historical Society with information on the Victorian Home Museum, the Emma Kunz House, historical and genealogical research, and other details about the Society and its activities.

 
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