Welcome!

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.

Mark Your Calendar - Sunday July 19th (1PM-4PM)

FREE Summer Sundays are back!  Travel back in time with each of our FREE Summer Sunday special events where our costumed staff has plenty of displays and hands-on experiences.  Each Summer Sunday is from 1-4PM on the lawn of the Colonel Palmer House.  Come inside and see the historic house restored to its 1800s glory.

Click here to learn more about this year's programs.

Membership Support

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.  

Palm Sunday Tornado - 1965

Newsflash -- Another new video of the tornado's destruction has been uploaded to YouTube.  Click here to view.

Perhaps the most significant weather event in Crystal Lake occurred 50 years ago. On Sunday, April 11, 1965 a massive tornado ripped through Crystal Lake, killing five people, destroying or damaging hundreds of homes and businesses, and forever changing the lives of those who witnessed this destructive event.

Click here for additional information and to view photos and videos of the storm's destruction.


Other Items of Interest on our Website

The Upcoming Events tab has been updated with dates and information about our 2015 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!

 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. 

2015 regular hours of operation:

Tuesdays (3PM - 7PM)

Thursdays (11AM - 4PM)

Fridays (11AM - 4PM)

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

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)

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.