French Heritage Museum
French Heritage Museum Explore & Celebrate
the French involvement in the history of the Kankakee River Valley - the first explorers and missionaries, the coureurs de bois and fur traders, and the pioneer settlers from France, French Canada, and Belgium.
Today, our French heritage continues to play a distinctive role in our community’s identity.
OPENING: October 2020
Hours: Saturdays 1:00-4:00 pm
*Admission is always FREE (donations are appreciated)
National Register of Historic Places:
Listed in 1979 as the Lemuel Milk Carriage House
For more information, call Kankakee County Museum 815-932-5279 (Tuesday-Friday 10:00-4:00).
Kankakee County Museum Exhibits DR. A.L. SMALL MEMORIAL HOME
Built in 1855, this home is one of the Museum’s living history buildings. The home is set to look as though a family home may have looked in the mid to late 1800s. 2015 saw the renovation of the upstairs bedrooms, including a master bedroom, children’s bedrooms, and a play area featuring a collection of 19th Century toys. There is also a display of typewriter styles throughout the decades.
TAYLOR ONE-ROOM SCHOOLHOUSE
The Schoolhouse was moved to the Museum Campus in 1976 and is another living history building. Students and adults can sit in antique school desks, explore the coat closets, and read about education in the 1900s. The Museum also offers tours of the Schoolhouse to local schools for field trips.
The North Gallery is comprised of three separate newly redesigned exhibits. Kankakee’s Three Governors displays artifacts and information related to the three governors of Illinois from Kankakee County. James Lillie, Life at the Turn of the Century, displays artifacts from large historic homes in the County that were built during a time of opulence and have since been demolished. The interpretive signage also explains the Gilded Age in American History. The F.D. Radeke Brewing Company exhibit contains many artifacts from the Brewery and tells of how the Volstead Act affected local businesses.
GEORGE GREY BARNARD EXHIBIT
George Grey Barnard was an American sculptor from the early 1900s that received praise for his works in Europe and the United States. The Kankakee County Museum has several dozen of his pieces, many of which are very large. The exhibit has just received a redesign to include new interpretive signage and photographs of the artist’s work in his studio, as well as his sketches.
THE PRESS ROOM
This print shop exhibit highlights the inner-workings of a twentieth-century printing business. With printing machines of various types donated by local newspaper businesses, visitors can explore the way newspapers were once put together.
THE STORY OF KANKAKEE COUNTY
This exhibit is housed in the South Gallery of the museum and is the largest exhibit space on display. The exhibit details the story of the county from the time of the glacier all the way to the 1980s “boom and bust” of the economy. This newly redesigned exhibit is the largest overhaul in recent history. The museum implemented new technology in the form of films and digital picture frames, and it added interactive displays. You can sit at an old desk and thumb through replications of texts and you may take your picture in the old bank exhibit.