It’s home to more than 17,000 people who live, work and play here. But the DeKalb County seat also boasts more than 200 properties that are part of the National Register of Historic Places, the official catalog of the nation’s most notable historic properties.
Sycamore’s inventory ranges from the 1905 DeKalb County Courthouse to ornate Queen Anne-style mansions to more modest commercial buildings. There’s even an ornate cemetery gate on the list.
Most are part of a 99-acre Sycamore Historic District that includes more than 200 properties deemed as contributing to the designation.
There are also five properties in and around Sycamore that merit individual attention with separate National Register designation. Most were placed on the list in 1978-79.
The Register is the official list of public and private properties meriting special attention and preservation. Every Illinois county has at least one property or historic district on the list.
More than 2,800 Illinois properties or districts appear on the Register.
DeKalb County has 15 properties or districts on the National Register list, including five in DeKalb and two in Sandwich.
Following are National Register descriptions form each property and supplemented by other historic information.
705 DeKalb Ave.
The Adolphus W. Brower House has been listed on the National Register since Feb. 14, 1979. The Italianate structure, constructed of stone and asphalt, was erected in 1876 by Sycamore merchant Adolphus W. Brower. It is also known as the George F. Beasley House.
475 DeKalb Ave.
The Chicago and Northwestern Depot — now home to the DeKalb County Community Foundation— was a historic railway station built in 1865 to serve as Sycamore’s main railway station.
The station has an Italianate design which was noticeably different from the standardized depots built elsewhere in the C&NW system.
The branch and station were acquired by the C&NW in 1883. The station was added to the National Register on December 8, 1978. At the time of its listing, it was being used as a warehouse by ITT-Holub Industries.
ELMWOOD CEMETERY GATES
South Cross and Charles Streets
Elmwood Cemetery is the final resting place for prominent past citizens of both Sycamore and nearby DeKalb.
The cast iron gates were likely built in 1865, the year the cemetery opened and the one emblazoned on the gates, though records of their construction have been lost.
While cast iron was commonly used for building facades at the time, the gates are a rare example of its use in landscape architecture.
The Illinois Historic Structures Survey described the gates as the best extant example of iron cemetery gate design in the state. The gates have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since November 28, 1978.
740 W. State
The William W. Marsh House has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1978. The 1873 house was home to William W. Marsh, an inventor and early leader production of the harvester.
The home is located along Illinois Route 64 as it passes through Sycamore. The Marsh House was built in the Italianate style and contains distinctive Italianate elements such as a cupola, a low-pitched roof and eaves supported by corbels.
NORTH GROVE SCHOOL
26475 Brickville Road
This historic one-room schoolhouse northwest of Sycamore was built by Swedish immigrants in 1878.
While it was originally a Lutheran school, it became part of the DeKalb County public school system two years later.
The school served area students in the first through eighth grades until 1952, when it closed during a wave of school consolidations. The school was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2012.
It is still owned by the Sycamore school district but leased to the North Grove School Association which cares for the site. It is occasionally open for tours and events. Visit www,northgroveschool.org/ for more information.
SYCAMORE HISTORIC DISTRICT
Downtown and residential environs
Organized in the late 1970s, the district roughly follows and extends from Main and Somonauk Streets and includes homes, business structures, churches and government buildings and services. Several Victorian homes along Main Street are enclosed in the historic district as well as buildings in downtown Sycamore. South of the courthouse are other homes included in the district, each important structure is marked with a plaque near the sidewalk.
Public buildings include the DeKalb County Courthouse, the Sycamore public library and Sycamore Post Office.
TAKE A TOUR
The DeKalb County History center has offered past tours of downtown Sycamore and surrounding areas during the summer. A tour of historic homes is also traditionally offered during Sycamore’s annual late October Pumpkin Festival.