Perhaps you were born and raised in Crystal Lake.  Or perhaps you've recently moved here.  Maybe your ancestors helped settle the area.  Regardless, we welcome you to The Crystal Lake Historical Society website, and hope you will learn more about our Society and our community's rich history.

Memorial Day - A Day of Remembrance

Click here to read about the history of Memorial Day in Crystal Lake.  Photo album (below) shows images from the 1935 Memorial Day parade as it comes up Woodstock Street and enters Union Cemetery.

Hop on the Trolley!

Every year the Crystal Lake Historic Preservation Commission creates a new trolley tour highlighting historic properties around town. On Sunday, June 8th, passengers will travel down “The Tree Streets” Elm, Maple, Ash, Grove and many others. The tour will highlight the historic details of homes as well as personal stories about the owners or builders. Timed, round-trip tickets are now available for ten dollars at Heisler’s Bootery, 50 N. Williams Street. On the day of the tour, any remaining tickets will be available at the Downtown Crystal Lake gazebo. Participants will receive a keepsake tour book with articles and vintage photos. Tours board at the gazebo from 10:00 am - 2:00 pm, and the early morning tours frequently sell out. Purchase tickets early so you don’t get left behind! Questions? Call 815.479.0835.

Look who put us on the map!

In 1899, the Milwaukee Sentinel interviewed Crystal Lake resident, John Brink.  This fascinating interview includes comments about Abraham Lincoln, Indian wars, French traders, pioneer hardships, and more.  Click here to read the transcribed interview. 

If you want to learn more about John Brink or other Crystal Lake residents, check out our Street Scenes page under Local History.

Membership & Support

Memberships in the Society expire on December 31st of each calendar year.  Memberships received during the fourth quarter extend through the following year.    Click here to learn more about member benefits, rates, and payment options.  Remember, it is through the support of our members that we can continue to preserve our community's history. 

One of the most valuable benefits of membership is the Society newsletter, The Crystal Times, which is published quarterly.  An online version of Index to Names found in the newsletter is available on the Local History / Research Resources page.  A limited number of back issues to The Crystal Times are available for sale.  Please email the Society for specific requests. 

Award Winning Program!

The Crystal Lake Historical Society's annual event, "Dearly Departed" is the proud recipient of the Illinois Association of Museums' 2013 Excellence Achievement Award for an Educational Program. 

Society directors Bill Kenney, Ann Viger, and event creator Sandy Price travelled to Peoria to receive this prestigious award.

City of Crystal Lake Centennial  

Join the City of Crystal Lake for a year-long celebration of the 100th anniversary of its incorporation.  Click here for additional information.

In honor of the Centennial, several local high school students have been working with the Society on "Then and Now" research projects.  Click here to see a short video made by Prairie Ridge High School student, Adrian Nuno.

What's New on the Website  

The Upcoming Events tab has been updated with dates and information about our 2014 programming activities.  Check this tab often as additional information is added.

The Local History tab has also been updated with a new feature called "Lost Crystal Lake".  Learn more about buildings and structures that are no longer standing.  This is an ongoing project, so check this tab often for new additions/updates. 

Another update to Local History is the addition of the Crystal Lake American Legion page featuring a history of the William Chandler Peterson Post #171. 

Also on the Local History tab, we've added an American Terra Cotta & Ceramic Co. page which includes information about the factory.  As a special treat, copies of the company's magazine, "Common Clay" have been added. 

A  Post Office History page and Telephone History page have also been added.  Vintage Crystal Lake phone books are being uploaded to view.  We just added 1931 & 1936 to the collection of phone books online!

Tornado Season  

As images of tornados which hit the Midwest filled our TV screens this year, many in Crystal Lake remember images from another tornado which hit Crystal Lake 49 years ago.  Click here for additional information.

(July, 2013) NEW TORNADO VIDEO ADDED  Click here 

 Plan a Visit

The Crystal Lake Historical Society is located at the Colonel Palmer House, which is at the intersection of Illinois Route 176 and Terra Cotta Road in Crystal Lake. 

Regular Hours of Operation are:

Tuesdays (3PM - 7PM)

Thursdays (11AM - 4PM)

Fridays (11AM - 4PM)

1st & 3rd Saturday of each month (11AM - 4PM)

Summer Alert!  The Colonel Palmer House will be CLOSED on Saturday June 7th, Tuesday July 1st, Saturday July 5th, and Saturday August 16th.

If you are planning to do research, it is best to call ahead to make certain someone will be available to assist you.

Mary Ott is the Site Coordinator at Colonel Palmer House.  Email her at: palmerhouse@crystallakeparks.org or call 815/455-1151

Vintage Postcard Book of Crystal Lake

Together with Arcadia Publishing, the Crystal Lake Historical Society has produced a Postcard History Book of Crystal Lake.  Using 190+ postcards from the Society's collection, Diana Kenney has created a visual history of Crystal Lake.  All proceeds from the sale of this book will benefit the Crystal Lake Historical Society.   Books are available at:

Colonel Palmer House, Route 176 & Terra Cotta

Crossroads Gifts, 57 N. Williams St.

City of Crystal Lake, 100 W. Woodstock St.

Books can be ordered online through the "Online Store" tab.

Please go here to listen to Diana Kenney, Crystal Lake Historical Society president, discuss some of the efforts the Society is involved with, along with a further description of the Vintage Postcard book. The audio is from a December 6, 2009 interview Diana had with Stew Cohen of local radio station STAR 105.5. (Note: the full 10 1/2 minute interview is playable in MP3 file format and is approximately 8 MB in storage size)