Welcome to Decatur Guide 2023

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We write today to welcome you to our community. Decatur truly is a hybrid, mixing sincere Midwestern values with modern urban experiences. As residents, both of us are thankful for our strong Decatur roots, and for the warmth and enthusiasm on display in our community every day. There is so much to discover here!

There's the rich history — from serving as the site of Abraham Lincoln's first political speech to being the original home of the Chicago Bears. And there's the way that history enriches the quality of life and work enjoyed by Decatur's 70,000 residents today.

Decatur is home to world-class businesses, including agribusiness giant Archer Daniels Midland, mining equipment manufacturer Caterpillar Inc., Mueller Water Products and our regional hospitals HSHS St. Mary's and Memorial Health.

Decatur also boasts a wealth of retail shops, restaurants and entertainment options, as well as the recreational fun found on Lake Decatur and more than 4,700 acres of park space, golf courses and ball fields. Each year, our community hosts more than 130 festivals and entertainment events, including outdoor concerts at the Devon Lakeshore Amphitheater and theater performances at Kirkland Fine Arts Center and the new Virginia Rogers Theatre, both located on Millikin University's campus.

Millikin University has been a vital part of the community for over 120 years offering state-ofthe-art facilities, excellent faculty committed to teaching and a quality educational experience sought after by thousands of college students. Consistently listed in the top tier of national university rankings, Millikin's strong link to our community provides valuable opportunities for students in all disciplines.

We hope you enjoy reading about the unique places and personalities in our community and take the time to discover all that Decatur has to offer. We're sure you'll like what you see.


Mayor, City of Decatur, Ill.

Chamber President

David Schrock

Director of Membership & Marketing

Tia Blakeman

Director of Finance & Administration

Jennifer Oberheim

Director of Communications & Member Engagement

Lee Nailer Administrative Assistant

With more than 130 years serving as the “Voice of Business” for the Decatur community, the Decatur Regional Chamber of Commerce is proud to promote opportunity and prosperity in local commerce. The Chamber advocates on behalf of members for business-friendly legislation while connecting members to programs, services, and networking opportunities which help make local business thrive and grow. We champion initiatives to further strengthen our Chamber members.

Investing in your local chamber means investing in community growth, as the Chamber strives to grow and retain locally operated businesses and partners with area organizations on community initiatives. Be an active part of the Decatur Regional Chamber of Commerce and take advantage of resources, incentives and professional networking available exclusively for chamber members.

Learn more at decaturchamber.com


Welcome to Decatur is published annually by Decatur Magazine and is distributed through the Decatur Regional Chamber of Commerce and its member businesses.

For advertising inquiries or to direct questions and comments about the magazine contact Decatur Magazine at 217-423-0422 or email publisher@decaturmagazine.com.

For more information about the Decatur area community contact the Decatur Regional Chamber of Commerce at 217-422-2200 or visit their website at www.decaturchamber.com.

Copyright 2023 Decatur Magazine, PO Box 498, Decatur IL 62525. 217-423-0422. Contents may not be reproduced in whole or in part without permission from the publisher

Proud member of the Decatur Regional Chamber of Commerce.


Easily browse the pages of this guide with shared links to popular local websites at decaturmagazine.com

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welcome to decatur!

Decatur, Illinois is a unique place. Geographically, we're located smack dab in the middle of things. With our acres of farm fields and prairie, we typify the nation's heartland. New products and innovative technologies are developed here, and a vast network of roads and rails efficiently link our products to global destinations that feed and fuel the world.

But there's a softer side to our city, too, and it's defined by the spirit of the people who live and work here. Their energy, optimism, talent, vision, and just plain hard work form the true heart of Decatur, and guide our city's future.

Browse these pages for a compelling snapshot of our community that creates a visual portrait of who we are and where we're going. Much like the uplifted gaze captured on Commodore Stephen Decatur's statue, we look forward to the future, too, and want to welcome you to our wonderful city


It has been said that moving day can be one of those times that make or break friendships. A true friend will help. The Decatur Regional Chamber of Commerce is here for you, too. The chamber's complete Relocation Packet includes all the tools you need to make your move a little easier. To learn more, call 217-422-2200 or go to www.decaturchamber.com.

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Decatur continues to be a hotbed of agricultural research and advanced industrial technologies that feed and fuel our world. New companies are establishing themselves in Decatur and existing companies are expanding their footprint – all with a focus on sustainability and green initiatives

A lively downtown and other urban areas offer fresh living spaces mixed in with premier dining, craft beer & cocktails, and stellar entertainment Over 2000 acres of parks and trails and easy lake access give residents the chance to get outside to play. Add in top-notch education facilities and a very affordable cost of living and you will quickly see Decatur's appeal as a well-rounded community poised for the future. There is no better time to live in Decatur and experience our City's growth!


10 Fun Central

Miles of Lake Decatur shoreline and waves of water recreation; acres of parks and green space; and sports scenes played out on soccer fields, golf courses, tennis courts and ball fields – make Decatur the center for fun.

14 Creative Climate

The entire city is our stage, where art galleries host rare exhibits right along with the bright splashes of student watercolors; curtains rise on internationally-known performers and local thespians; and cultural heritage is celebrated in song, dance, and sculpture.

48 Urban Farms

Technically, it’s defined as the period between the last frost of winter and the first frost of fall. For those of us living in Central Illinois, the growing season is also the time of year we roll up our sleeves and get to work, when establishing strong roots by cultivating what we plant becomes our top priority

18 Preserving Our Past

We walk the same blocks tread by Abraham Lincoln, and surround ourselves with the successes of Decatur's founding families. Experience history through our eyes, and you'll see homesteads restored to their original grandeur and museums brimming with yesteryear treasures.

22 Walk Through Time

Experiencing part of Decatur's past can be as simple as a walk around the block. The stately homes in Millikin Place take a bow to historic architecture that is beautifully preserved.

36 Calling All Kids

Learn to play is our motto. Whether your children want to take up a musical instrument, dance on stage, master a sport, or discover the world around them, after-school programs offer them the chance to grow

44 Good Neighbors

Look at a map of the Decatur area and you'll see a patchwork quilt of communities – neighborhoods with a history, a personality, and a story to tell. Home to historic bungalows, stately mansions, lakeside retreats and new suburban expansion, they weave the fabric of an appealing place to live.

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Cruise 11 Car Show

Central Park September 11

Arts in Central Park September 15 - 17

Tree Lighting Ceremony

Decatur Civic Center November 25

Lights of Christmas Parade December 2

Christmas Walk December 6 QUESTIONS?

Call the DACVB at 217-423-7000.


Anna Thai Exotic cuisine 253 N. Main

Bobbi Lane's BBQ and more! 101 S. Main

Caddy Shack Golf & Grub 231 N. Main

Coney McKanes All-American Eatery 104 E. Prairie

Doherty's Pub & Pins Irish Food & Spirits 242 E. William

Downtown Café Down home delicious 217 N. Main

The End Game Food & Games 259 N. Main

The Gin Mill Prime steaks & cocktails 124 E. Prairie

The Hall at Five-Twenty (AKA KC Hall) 520 E. North St. 217-422-2624

Jimmy John's Freaky Fast 154 Merchant Street

Lincoln Lounge It’s All Greek 121 N. Main

Napoli's Italian Food 134 E. Main

River Coffee Company Coffeehouse & Café 101 N. Main

Robbies Grille Unique relaxed atmosphere 122 Merchant Street

TapRoot American Cuisine 170 Merchant Street


All Things Beautiful Collectibles & Gifts 225 N. Main

The ArtFarm Handmade Gifts & Home Goods 252 N. Park

Art+Markët Local Art, Gifts & Handmade Goods 236 N. Water

Blue Connection Art Gallery & Gift Shop 125 N. Water

Brass Horn Men’s Clothier 108 E. Prairie

Brass Horn Kids Kid’s Clothier 116 E. Prairie

Brass Horn Too Women’s Clothier 112 E. Prairie

Dali Bliss Salon & Boutique 159 W. Main

Decatur Coin & Jewelry Coin Collections and Vintage Jewelry 104 N. Main

Del’s Popcorn, Popcorn & Sweets 142 Merchant Street

Flora Gems Custom Designs & Estate Jewelry 101 N. Water

Gallery 510 Art gallery/frame shop 160 E. Main Giggles Fun and games card shop 112 Merchant Street

Linenwood Boutique Womenswear & accessories 117 N Main

Madden Arts Center First Friday Entertainment 125 N. Water

Murphy Co Kitchen & Home Decor 163 N. Water

Novel Ideas Bookstore & Gifts 480 E. Main

One Twisted Sister Women's Clothing & Accessories 124 Merchant Street

Penelope Boutique Women's Clothing 135 E. Prairie

Raupp's Shoes Men, Women & Children 139 N. Water

Shop on Main Women’s Clothier 407 N. Main

Tournesol Gifts inspired by nature 134 Merchant Street

decatur at a glance



Macon County Decatur Forsyth Mt. Zion


Households Macon County Median Home Value Average Apartment Rent Median HH Income Cost of Living Index

103,998 70,552 3,734 6,019

43,914 $105,500 $609/month $46,807 82.6 (low, US avg. 100)

CLIMATE Average Temperature

Average Annual Precipitation Comfort Index 7.2/10

Winter 31.17 F Summer 74.67 F

Rainfall 37 inches Snowfall 23 inches Sunny Days 200



Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) Caterpillar (CAT) Decatur Memorial Hospital Decatur Public Schools HSHS St. Mary's Hospital Millikin University The Kelly Group Akorn Inc. Primient Ameren Illinois Norfolk & Southern Mueller Company


Positioned at the junction of Interstate 72 and Route 51, Decatur offers convenient access to major metropolitan areas and other central Illinois communities within easy driving distance.


Distance from Decatur in miles Bloomington-Normal Champaign-Urbana Springfield Chicago Indianapolis St. Louis Kansas City

45 42 36 179 165 120 344

Average commute time in Decatur is 18 minutes.

Total Beds Doctors Dentists


Art Galleries Antique Centers Museums Performance Venues City Parks Conservation Areas Public Gardens Bike Trail Dog Park Disc Golf Course Golf Courses Miniature Golf Course Climbing Wall/Ropes Course Water Park Children’s Museum Zoo

Tennis Courts Bowling Facilities Skateboarding Pickleball Courts Ice Skating Football/Soccer Fields Ball Diamonds Lighted Ball Diamonds Sports Complex Water Access

Decatur Memorial Hospital St. Mary's Hospital 634 548 73

7 9 7 8 46 (2,000 acres) 5 (3,600 acres) 5 16 miles 2 2 2 public/2 private 2 2 1 1 1 25 public/2 private 1 1 skate park 10 public, 2 private 1 indoor rink 18 34 20 3 outdoor/1 indoor Lake Decatur Sangamon River Lake Shelbyville Clinton Lake

For more information contact the Decatur Regional Chamber of Commerce at 217-422-2200 or decaturchamber.com.

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Acres of parks and nature trails; miles of Lake Decatur shoreline and waves of water recreation; and sports scenes from youth hockey to tennis and golf — make Decatur the center for fun

Lake Decatur

Much of Decatur's story links to our lake. Created in 1922, Lake Decatur established itself as the state's largest artificial body of water with a total of 2,800 acres and a 30mile shoreline.

Today, roles as the city's primary water source, recreational hub, and wildlife haven reflect a unique partnership between the City of Decatur, which owns the Lake, and the Decatur Park District, principal owner of its 2,000-acre shoreline. Generous public access affords plenty of boating and fishing, parks, wildlife vistas, and flyway observation decks.

Boating is a popular pastime on Lake Decatur for sailing, cruising or fishing. Home to over twenty fishing tournaments each year, the lake draws visitors from across the country. The Commodore Decatur Yacht Club and a host of other boat clubs provide private boat slips and organized events for members.

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The community shares a vested interest in this vital and historic resource, and plans for continued development include a proposed $35 million lake enhancement project that includes a rejuvenated new lakefront with retailers, restaurants, amphitheater and condominiums. The first phase, completed in summer 2011, includes a dog park, adventure trail, disk golf and other fitness amenities in Nelson Park. The Beach House promenade and new marina on the lakefront are complete. Overlook Adventure Park includes the mini-golf complex, ropes course, batting cages and new aquatic center

Great Outdoors

Decatur presents a panorama of “green space:” Over 5,000 acres fit for hiking, biking, cross-country skiing, sledding, golfing, horseback riding, camping, birding, picnicking — or simply relaxing. And with two dog parks, there's even ample play space for man's best friend!

Six community and 30 neighborhood parks — a total of 2,000 green acres — comprise the Decatur Park District's outdoor recreation system. Friendly neighborhood “pocket parks” sport sandboxes and swings, while longtime favorites like Fairview Park, where nostalgia is among nature's gifts, have charmed residents for decades. Restored to its 1950's glory, Fairview's Dreamland Lake transports many Decaturites to summer days spent fishing with Grandpa and feeding the ducks or winter afternoons ice-skating with a sweetheart. New memories are made here every day, too, as the “rolls” from Fairview's most recent addition — a Skate Park built to spec for local skateboarders with banked wedges, pipes and ramps — and the shouts of wintertime sledders on Cannonball hill attest.

Sixteen miles of trail way connect nature's landscapes and beckon outdoor enthusiasts of all ages. Park paths follow terrain ranging from abundant woodlands and rolling meadows to unspoiled prairie and lush greenways bordering the Sangamon River and Stevens Creek. A ten-foot wide, handicapped accessible bikeway spans 3.2 miles and connects Fairview and Kiwanis parks and the Rock Springs nature area. A new bikeway extension was completed in the fall that extends north from the Fairview Park trail to connect to Forsyth.

Protecting nature's bounty is a priority for our community as well, and much of its guardianship lies with the Macon County Conservation District, whose mission to acquire, maintain, and restore natural areas and cultural sites embraces 3,200 acres of nature, wildlife, and outdoor recreation

Five tracts — each with unique geography, habitat, history, and recreational opportunities — fall under the District's auspices including Rock Spring Nature Center, and Friends Creek, Sand Creek, Fort Daniel and Griswold Conservation Areas.

Sporting Life

Complementing this relatively spontaneous side of the great outdoors is the community's invigorating array of organized athletic activities — a range well suited to participants or spectators. In addition to one of the nation's premiere park systems, the Decatur Park District also manages 58 baseball diamonds, dozens of tennis and basketball courts, fourteen soccer fields, and two public golf courses. Decatur's complexes and sports facilities host competitive events ranging from swim, hockey, and gymnastics, to cheerleading, cross country, soccer, and martial arts.


th Rated 18 in the nation by Golf Digest Magazine for accessibility and affordability, Decatur is right on par with two award-winning public golf courses. The flat, wide fairways of Hickory Point Golf Course, situated on Decatur's north side, challenge both beginner and experienced golfers. Designed by Roger Packard, Hickory Point features a lighted driving range and a special, six-hole short course.

The newest star in our golf galaxy is Red Tail Run, designed by the legendary Raymond Floyd. With large, undulating greens, wide rolling fairways, and native prairie grasses and plants, and serving as Decatur's Audubon-sanctioned golf course, Red Tail Run is in synch with the environment — and with enthusiastic golfers.

Two private clubs in Decatur, the Country Club of Decatur and South Side Country Club, offer championship golf for members on their manicured 18-hole courses managed by PGA professionals.

Play Ball

With five lighted softball/baseball diamonds and four illuminated volleyball courts, Rotary Park, the city's premier sports complex, sees its fair share of competitors, too. Ideal for large tournaments, Rotary Park hosts teams from throughout the region and state, as well as just for fun leagues for locals during the summer

Take it indoors

Take a look at recreation from the inside out, and you'll find spaces as expansive as our great outdoors. Decatur's Civic Center, host to meetings and expositions by day, gets “cool” on evenings and weekends, when families and friends take to its indoor ice arena. The rink also is headquarters for the Decatur Flames, a competitive hockey league comprised of more than 200 area youth ages four through high school, and part of the Decatur Youth Hockey Association

With 87,000 square feet of space, the Decatur Indoor Sports Center (DISC) has indoor recreation covered under one impressive roof — from two gymnasiums, a four-lane competitive grade track, dance studios, and batting/pitching cages to a climbing wall, indoor golf center and weight room.

On the city's north side is the recently expanded Greater Decatur YMCA, with racquetball courts, indoor swimming, Wellness Center, personalized training programs, a wide array of fitness classes, and on-site childcare.

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College and Prep Sports

Spectators find action, too, with Decatur-area teams providing plenty to watch. At the college level, we cheer on the Big Blue of Millikin University, whose men's and women's teams compete in football, basketball, baseball, softball, cross-country, golf, soccer, swimming, tennis, track and field, volleyball, and wrestling as part of the CCIW (College Conference of Illinois-Wisconsin.) Cheers echoed throughout our city in 2006, when the Millikin University Women's Basketball team snagged the NCAA Division II National Championship.

And whether it's decades-old high school bragging rights between the Eisenhower Panthers and the MacArthur Generals, or the Illinois High School Association Class 2A State Champion St.Teresa Bulldogs versus the Maroa-Forsyth Trojans, bleachers are packed and loyalties run deep.

More Places to Play

Take a walk on the wild side at Scovill Zoo, home to wild and domestic animals from around the world. The Z.O. & O. Express Train winds through the 15-acre site and no visit is complete without a ride on the Endangered Species Carousel. The Zoo hosts special family events (like Boo at the Zoo in October) and educational programs at the Shilling Environmental Center year round. Annual family memberships are available.

Another long-time favorite, the Children's Museum of Illinois, bills itself as a place where “children play to learn, and adults learn to play.” Ranked among the top 25 children's museums in the country by Child magazine, the facility spans two floors of interactive exhibits and 10,000 square feet of exhibit space. Situated throughout the Museum, interactive stations encourage youngsters to be whoever they imagine — pilot, builder, banker, or scientist. Ten permanent exhibits complement traveling exhibits and special projects.

Windows to other worlds also open at Rock Springs Nature Center, a 1,350-acre site situated in the midst of Rock Springs Conservation Area. The Children's Awareness Room acquaints youngsters with residents of prairie, forest, and aquatic environments, and encourages them to “spy” on new friends through the Room's expansive window. Interpretive staff members are always on hand to help translate local critter dialogue.

At Overlook Adventure Park, you’ll find a new 36-hole miniature golf complex designed for all skill levels, along with a ropes course and batting cages. Splash Cove, the new family aquatic center includes slides, zip lines and lazy river

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Our venues are a lively mix, where art galleries host rare exhibits right alongside bright splashes of local students' watercolors; curtains rise on internationally-known performers and local thespians; and cultural heritage is celebrated in song, dance, and sculpture. Throughout the Decatur area, talent radiates and spotlights shine on artists and performers of all ages. c


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First Friday Art Walk

Downtown Decatur is home to five art galleries, all within easy walking distance of each other. This close proximity inspired gallery walks on the First Friday of every month where you'll find displays of original art, entertaining musicians, and culinary delights year round. Take a stroll through the ArtFarm, Art+Markët, Gallery 510, Blue Connection and the Madden Art Center where creativity takes center stage.

Sounds of Music

If you love music the way we do, tune in. From small intimate recitals to music halls filled to capacity, Decatur's eight performance venues offer everything from opera to rock and roll. One of the region's most cherished annual traditions is Vespers, where 300 Millikin University student voices and instrumentalists come together in song to celebrate the sounds of the holiday season. Browse the pages of The Season guide for music, theatre and dance performances presented throughout the year

Take A Tour

Take to the streets for a creative spin on history. Go on a walking tour of Decatur's historic architecture or drive past stunning displays of public art, like the original sculpture created by Preston Jackson as a tribute to African American Civil War soldiers, or the downtown painted wall murals depicting significant moments in Decatur’s history

Curtain Calls

Thousands of patrons are drawn to the annual Kirkland Performing Arts series, which typically includes music, comedy, and dance performances with appeal for the entire family. Nationally acclaimed musical tours have included Rent, Grease, Evita, Cats, Jesus Christ Superstar, and many others. Located on the Millikin University campus, Kirkland Fine Arts Center is joined by Albert Taylor Theatre, Virginia Rogers Theater and Pipe Dreams Studio as the perfect venues for University student performances ranging from comedy to drama, and musicals to dance.

Another talented troupe are the Decatur Community Dancers, whose performance “home” is Richland’s Shilling Auditorium. In addition to theatre productions, this 325-seat venue also hosts lectures, film series, annual business meetings, and community stage productions. Theatre 7, Decatur's all-volunteer community theater troupe, performs in the Decatur Civic Center theater. More than 150 Theatre 7 members perform on-stage and assist behind the scenes, and are supported by hosts of local businesses — and enthusiastic audiences.

Perfect Harmony

Ours is a musically gifted community, where the local composite of talent — ranging from Millikin University instrumental faculty to high school jazz bands — is literally music to our ears. Hitting a particularly high note within this musical range is the Decatur Municipal Band — formed in 1857 and believed to be the nation’s oldest non-military band in continuous service. Residents count on the sounds of their Municipal Band at parades, special events, and summertime concerts in Central Park. Another rewarding experience for musicians and audiences alike is the Millikin-Decatur Symphony Orchestra (MDSO), an ensemble comprised of Millikin University instrumental faculty, students, and freelance musicians.

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W E L C O M E T O D E C A T U R 2 0 2 3 1 7 Opening receptions unveiling new exhibits. Anne Lloyd Gallery 125 North Water The ArtFarm 252 North Park Art+Markët 236 North Water Blue Connection 117 North Water Gallery 510 160 East Main
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It's no stretch to say history surrounds us, and the legacy of those who came before is easy to find. It's carved in building facades, and etched on street signs. We invest, visit, volunteer, and support museums and restorations to honor, remember, and learn from those early pioneers. We walk the same blocks tread by Abraham Lincoln, and surround ourselves with the successes of Decatur's founding families. Experience history through our eyes, and you'll see homesteads restored to their original grandeur; museums brimming with yesteryear treasures; and monuments built to pay tribute to fallen heroes. c

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Lincoln in Decatur

Explore & Learn


At age 21, our nation's 16 president first laid eyes on Decatur in March 1830, his first home in Illinois. Through the next three decades, the fledgling attorney – and the young city – would continue to intersect, with Decatur ultimately playing a pivotal role in Lincoln's political destiny. Today, you can trek “Honest Abe's” path at 15 Wayside Exhibits throughout the community that tell the story of his journey to the White House. Ten of the exhibits are located in downtown Decatur for a convenient selfguided walking tour.

Our region has a culturally rich heritage of thinkers, dreamers, inventors and leaders, and you can understand why when you come here. You, too, can experience the influence of our forefathers by visiting lovingly restored mansions, museums and antique centers brimming with treasures that preserve the past for future generations. The James Millikin Homestead and Richard Oglesby Mansion offer monthly tours and open houses. The Macon County Museum Complex is home to a prairie village, Lincoln Courthouse and historical artifacts and the Homestead Prairie Village at Rock Springs Nature Center tell the story of the region's early settlers.

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A gunsmith and machinist, Mueller became an inventor — answering practical needs of a world entering the industrial age. Mueller Company retained its family ownership until 1986, and the company remains a thriving enterprise today. Located on the Mueller Company grounds along Eldorado Street is the Hieronymus Mueller Museum, just the place to meet Decatur’s “unsung genius” and holder of over 500 patents. This eclectic spot shows how Mueller and his descendents invented and manufactured everything from the first sanitary drinking fountain to fire hydrants. There’s even an example of one of the first Mueller-Benz automobiles.

The restored mansion at 361 N. College Street is home to the Staley Museum that preserve the history of the A. E. Staley Family, The Staley Historic Home and the A. E. Staley Mfg. Co., especially as it pertains to the history of the city of Decatur and the larger agricultural community. The Museum serves as a repository of information, historical documentation and memorabilia, as well as a cultural and educational contributor to the community of Decatur

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When Hieronymus Mueller emigrated to the U.S. from Germany, his brothers who lived in Freeport, Illinois, advised him to “pick a good town with a railroad and grow with it. Decatur, a town south of here, is at the junction of two railroads. Go there and grow up with the town.”
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by jan mathew photography by curt knapp & gary sebens

Developed and built from around 1909 to 1921 and anchored by the Millikin Homestead, this small but spacious seven-lot residential area was home to families that walked its street and shaped our city: The Millikins, Muellers, Gradys.

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But within the broad context of local history, #5 Millikin Place — surrounded by lush greenery and tucked along the street's cul-de-sac — tells its own sweet circle-of-life story

Splash a bit of water on the front walkway cement, and you'll see “1934” and the hint of an infant handprint belonging to artist and sculptor Lucien Kapp, who has lived at #5 for 80 of his 86 years. Considerably more visible are the small handprints of Kapp's grandchildren, Lilly and Oliver, dated 2009 and preserved in cement near the side door

“This house told me what it wanted,” says Kapp of the intricate restoration process that returned the family home to its 1920's roots. When his parents moved out in 1971, they gifted the house to Kapp and his wife, Brigitta. “At first I thought living here would be transient,” Kapp admits. “But I grew into a creature of sentiment.”

Memories best describe his deep feelings for Millikin Place. An only child whose mother died when he was two, Kapp had plenty of playmates and was considered a Millikin Place “mascot” of sorts. He learned to play Monopoly in the library of #2 with friends Bill and Betty Funk, the grandchildren of original owners Edward and Florence Irving. Perhaps a predictor of his celebrated artistic career, Kapp intuitively appreciated “something very different” about this house compared to its neighbors.

“It was theatrical by design,” he recalls. “The entryway was shallow and opened into a vast, open space. I also remember the pleasant aroma of fumed oak, which permeated everything.”

Boyish escapades occasionally resulted in being “escorted” off by homes' groundskeepers: Rippling the water and disturbing the fish in Mrs. Adolph Mueller's goldfish pond; trying to squeeze as many boys as possible into the birdbath of the Homestead's sunken gardens; playing basketball at #4 and taking shots that “destroyed” the stained glass lanterns on the side of the garage.

Another chapter opened in Kapp's circle of life story when his daughter and son-in-law moved into #4. Throughout their nine years on Millikin Place, Kapp assisted the couple with dozens of restoration projects. Most unique, he recalls, was the yard's ten-foot bat house, constructed from brick and roofed with a 1,500-pound limestone slab. It was installed by Adolph Mueller as an ill-fated “insect zapper,” circa 1920s. “Tiny cubicles were partitioned with slate,” Kapp says, “and when we removed the top, it was obvious that the bats had completely ignored it for decades!”

A passionate preservationist, Kapp, who also taught in Millikin University's Department of Art for three years in the 1960s, grew from neighborhood mascot to its champion. He salvaged bricks from pillars that originally marked the Homestead drive entry on West Main Street to construct the planter in Millikin Place's circle. And in the early '70s, when #7 was acquired by a real estate firm through an estate settlement and plans were announced to convert the structure into a duplex residence — allowable at the time under R-6 zoning — Kapp led the “ransom” charge. Residents united to buy the home and, ultimately, successfully down-zoned Millikin Place to R-2, or single residence only. With local restrictions in place, along with designations on the National Register of Historic Places and Decatur's historic district, Kapp is optimistic about the future of his “past.”

“It's been a battle at times,” he admits. “But I see Millikin Place as a valuable island — one that is valuable to the history and beauty of Decatur

“In 50 years, I hope it looks exactly as it does today.”

Founding Fathers

Millikin Place traces its history to the 1880s, when two commanding Italianate mansions — one owned by James and Anna B. Millikin (the present-day Millikin Homestead), the second by Hugh W. Hill — stood on the west side of Pine Street between William and Main Streets. In 1909, the 4.3-acre Hill estate was sold for just under $12,000 and subdivided into large lots to create a high-end residential enclave.

The estate's new owners, Edward and Florence Irving, were backed by some of Decatur's wealthiest businessmen, including William J. Grady, Robert and Philip Mueller, William M. Wood and Frank Cruikshank. Each owner was required to hire a residential architect.

According to Kapp, Frank Lloyd Wright's segue to the scene is “somewhat of a mystery.” It's not recorded how the Irvings knew of Wright or why they selected him for #2. And, without realizing that Wright had left for a year-long European jaunt and turned his practice over to Marion Mahony, the Irvings also had recommended him to the Mueller and Wood families — a fortuitous word-of-mouth that gave Millikin Place Wright's indelible footprint.

Source credit: “Marion Mahony and Millikin Place: Creating A Prairie School Masterpiece,” by Paul Kruty and Paul E. Sprague.

Contributor Jan Mathew enjoyed several springtime strolls through Decatur's Millikin Place.

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Hickory Point Golf Club

727 Weaver Rd, Forsyth, IL 62535 217-421-7444 for tee times

Hickory Point Golf Course is truly a course for the beginner, as well as, the competitive golfer. The flat, wide fairways are perfect for learning, while long distances and the ever present wind provide challenge for more experienced golfers. Designed by Roger Packard, the course features a lighted driving range. A special six-hole short course, opened in 1999, is designed specifically for beginning and youth golfers.

Course information: Yardage: 6848 Slope: 127 Par: 72 Course Rating: 72.3


520 West Grove Road Decatur, IL 62521

217-422-2211 for tee times.

Designed by legendary hall of fame player Raymond Floyd, this signature course features large undulating greens, wide rolling fairways and native grasses. Located on Decatur’s south side, the Park District’s newest course is designed for players of all skill levels. From five tee locations and multiple angles, this signature Floyd course is truly designed for the championship to the novice golfer

! Multiple Tee Locations from Championship to Junior

! Driving Range with Double Tees

! Golf Academy Programming

! First Tee Learning Center

Course information:

Yardage: 6713

Slope: 125 Par: 72 Course Rating: 72.0

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Tail Run Golf Club by Raymond Floyd
Rates effective through December 2023. RAMADA 355 Hickory Point Rd • Decatur, IL 62526 217-876-8011 • www.ramada.com Golf Package Rate: $80.00 per day (per person - double occupancy) DECATUR CONFERENCE CENTER & HOTEL 4191 US Highway 36 • Decatur, IL 62522 217-422-8800 www.hoteldecatur.com Golf Package Rate: $85.00 per day (per person - double occupancy) HAMPTON INN by HIlton 4855 E. Evergreen Court Decatur, IL 62521 217-864-3297 www.hampton.com Golf Package Rate: $105.00 per day (per person - double occupancy) HAMPTON INN by HIlton (Forsyth) 1429 Hickory Point Dr Forsyth, IL 62535 217-877-5577 www.hampton.com Golf Package Rate: $89.00 per day (per person - double occupancy) QUALITY INN 134 Barnett Ave. Forsyth, IL 62535 217-875-1166 www.qualityinn.com Golf Package Rate: $75.00 per day (per person - double occupancy) HAWTHORN SUITES by WYNDHAM 2370 Mt. Zion Rd. Decatur, IL 62521 217-864-9311 www.wyndhamhotels.com Golf Package Rate: $99.00 per day (per person - double occupancy) HOMEWOOD SUITES by Hilton 333 West Marion Ave. • Forsyth, IL 62535 217-877-0887 www.decaturforsyth.homewoodsuites.com Golf Package Rate: $125.00 per day (per person - single occupancy) RESIDENCE INN 230 Lucile Ave • Forsyth, IL 62535 217-872-6600 • www.marriott.com Golf Package Rate: $129.00 per day (per person - single occupancy) FAIRFIELD INN 1417 Hickory Point Dr. • Forsyth, IL 62535 217-875-3337 • www.faireldinn.com Golf Package Rate: $88.00 per day (per person - double occupancy) 727 Weaver Rd., Forsyth, IL • 217-421-7444 Host of the IHSA Class AA Girls’ State Tournament Yardage: 6848 | Par: 72 | Slope: 127 | Course Rating: 72.3 • Larry Packard design • Traditional parkland style 520 W. Grove Rd., Decatur, IL • 217-422-2211 Host of IHSA Class A Girls’ State Tournament Yardage: 6713 | Par: 72 | Slope: 125 | Course Rating: 72.0 • Designed by Raymond Floyd • Prairie-style, Scottish links
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Downtown Decatur (see inset above)

Fairview Park Plaza

South Shores Center


Brettwood Village

Mound Plaza

Point Mall

Decatur Conference Center & Hotel

America’s Best Value Inn

Homewood Suites

Fairfield Inn

Hampton Inn Quality Inn

Residence Inn

Country Inn & Suites

Baymont Inn

Ramada Limited

Welcome Hotel & Suites

Holiday Inn & Suites

Sleep Inn

Tri-Manor Motel

Sandy’s Motel

Decatur Inn

Country Hearth Inn

Younker House B & B

Intown Motel

Soy City Motel

Lakeview Motel

Hawthorn Suites


Progress City, USA

Richland Community College / Shilling

Macon County History Museum

Children’s Museum of Illinois

Scovill Zoo

Hieronymus Mueller Museum

Mari Mann Herb Farm

Rock Springs Conservation Area

Millikin University / Kirkland

James Millikin Homestead Gallery 510 Madden Arts Center

Macon County Fairgrounds

African American Cultural Museum

Oglesby Mansion

Chevrolet Hall of Fame Museum

Staley Museum

Preston Jackson Park

Fairview Park

Fairview Tennis Complex

Decatur Skate Park

Decatur Indoor Sports Center (DISC)

Greater Decatur YMCA

Hickory Point Golf Course

Forsyth Village Park

Red Tail Run Golf Club

Nelson Park

Sportsmans Park, Schaub Center

Rotary Park

Sand Creek Conservation Area

Decatur Soccer Complex

Lake Decatur

Borg Warner Sports Complex

Sunnyside Park

Overlook Adventure Park


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©Copyright 2018 Decatur Magazine
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July 4

Independence Day Celebration

Nelson Park, 2301 E. Lakeshore Dr. Community celebration on the lakefront with live music, food and fireworks display at dusk, free, 217-422-5911.

October 7

Decatur Craft Beer Festival

VIP event downtown on Friday at The Madden with premier craft beers and new product launches. Saturday event on Lake Decatur includes food and craft beers from across the country and live music at The Devon. Tickets, 217-423-3189.

September 4

Labor Day POPS on the Lake Devon Amphitheater

Millikin-Decatur Symphony Orchestra performs their annual end of the summer concert on the shores of Lake Decatur. Boats anchor offshore. 6:00 pm. For tickets go to devonamphitheater.com

September 15 - 17

Arts in Central Park

Central Park, Downtown Decatur. Art festival featuring the works of over 60 artists, live music, sponsored by Decatur Area Arts Council and Gallery 510, $ for food and beverage, Friday night Preview Party with musical entertainment, F 57pm, Sa 10am-5pm, Su 10am-4pm, free admission, 217-423-3189.

October 1

Annual Shoreline Classic Nelson Park

Premier road race draws thousands of runners and spectators from across the country. The 5K and 15K races are run along the shores of scenic Lake Decatur in a colorful fall setting. To register to shorelineclassic.com

November 25

Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony

Decatur Civic Center and Central Park. Christmas in downtown Decatur officially kicks off with the tree lighting in the circle drive of the civic center at 6:00 pm. Santa takes up residence in the historic Transfer House in Central Park. For hours, 217-423-7000.

January - December 2023

December 2 - 3


Kirkland Fine Arts Center

Cherished annual tradition brings the sounds of Millikin University students together in song as they present “evening prayers” to adoring audiences. 3:00 p.m. & 7:00 p.m. both days. For tickets call 217424-6318.

December 2

Lights of Christmas Parade

Downtown Decatur parade route. The annual Lighted Christmas Parade celebrates the season with festive floats, 4:30pm, Santa in the Transfer House, free, 217423-7000.

December 6

Christmas Walk

Downtown Decatur. Festive trolley rides, music and carolers, delicious goodies, and Santa's House in Central Park, extended retail hours and art galleries open, 5-8pm, free, 217-423-3189.

For details on other events in the Decatur area, go to decaturmagazine.com/calendar.

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the foundation of progress

Teach your children well has always been a song to celebrate in Decatur

From the early beginnings of one-room country schools to the present day computerized classrooms, our community has deemed education the foundation of progress. Going to school isn't merely a destination in Decatur — it's a life-long process of improvement. Our citizens have opportunities to learn at every life stage, with programs available for those taking their first tentative baby steps to adults long past retirement.

Excellent Choices

Primary and secondary education is synonymous with choice. Families can select from public, private, and religious schools based on individual needs. Area school districts such as Maroa-Forsyth, Mt. Zion, WarrensburgLatham, and Meridian offer a small town atmosphere for students, while fostering academic excellence.

Decatur Public School System — better known as DPS No. 61 — has reinvented itself several times in the 140 years since the first school bell rang. The district continues to offer the most varied and enriched programs in the region, including a wide range of music and professional development courses.

Five district schools are classified as “magnets.” These schools present a full curriculum, but also focus on specific topics or styles of teaching. For example, Garfield Montessori Magnet School is one of only five public Montessori schools in the state and the first public Montessori middle school in Illinois. This hands-on teaching method mixes ages in the classroom, focuses on learning by doing, and emphasizes respect for others. Decatur is fortunate to have two Montessori schools – Prairie Flower Montessori is a private school offering classes for pre-school through primary grades.

Christian education in our community encompasses Catholic, Lutheran, and non-denominational schools. These options provide a well-rounded education that centers on development of the whole child, combining religious doctrine with high academic standards and an attitude of service to others. Some 17 private schools add to the choices in our educational community, and names such as

Holy Family, Saint Patrick Elementary, Our Lady of Lourdes School, and Northwest Christian Campus reflect curricula that combine teaching the mind and reaching the heart.


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The history of St. Teresa High School — known to locals as “St. T.” — stretches over a century to 1866. What was once strictly a girls' boarding school now has a co-ed enrollment of over 370 students that draws largely from three local Catholic schools.

In 2000, the Lutheran School Association expanded its facilities to include a high school. And, under one roof at Decatur Christian School are about 300 K-12 students, an enrollment which represents about 80 area churches.

With three dedicated homeschooling organizations — Decatur Area Homeschool Network, Greenhouse, and Greater Decatur Area Catholic Home Schoolers — it's estimated about 450 children from 150 to 200 families in our community are home educated. Besides an active co-op teaching math, drama, art, Spanish, music, science, and sign language, many local organizations such as the YMCA, Decatur Area Arts Council, and Rock Springs Nature Center provide programs specifically designed for home educated students.

A Rich Environment

Decatur is surrounded by higher learning opportunities.

Over 76,000 students are served each year by Richland Community College (RCC), located amid some of the richest farmland in the nation on the city's northeast corner. The college serves residents of Macon County and parts of Christian, DeWitt, Logan, Moultrie, Piatt, Sangamon, and Shelby counties. RCC's open door policy allows admittance to anyone within the district that would benefit from a higher education

More than 30 areas of concentration are available for students, and those earning degrees in any of these areas can transfer to a four-year college or university. Lifelong learning programs and non-credit classes span topics from computers, investments, and fine arts, to auto mechanics and dance.

The regional Heartland Technical Academy, teaches practical and work-related skills to high school students in subjects such as agriculture, childcare, criminal justice, and fire-fighting — often partnering with business and industry to get on-the-job training that will prepare students for life beyond the classroom.

Big Blue

James Millikin would be proud. He dreamed of a four-year university that would embrace the “practical” side of learning along with the “literary and classical.” With a combination of community support and private philanthropy Millikin built one of the nation's first small, comprehensive universities. Over a century later, the college continues to thrive — with three professional schools and one liberal

arts and sciences school serving a diverse student body of about 2,400 and offering over 50 undergraduate majors. Within six months of commencement, 99 percent of Millikin's graduates are employed or pursuing additional studies.

Business played an early role in MU's history. Now, highly motivated professionals have the option of pursuing MU's Masters of Business Administration degree within the Tabor School of Business. Designed as a unified curriculum rather than a collection of courses, the program is meant to prepare students for leadership in today's complex business world.

Millikin's Professional Adult Comprehensive Education (PACE) program is designed for working adults — students at least 24 years old with three years of work experience and 45 credit hours under their belts. Majors are available in Organizational Leadership, Criminal Justice, and Accounting. A nursing program is offered for those with an RN degree who wish to complete their BSN by going to night school.

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Learn how to observe and support your infanttoddler's concentration and independence while meeting their needs for healthy attachment.

This 6 Friday morning program (9:30-11:00), takes place in an environment that will help you to create a Montessori-inspired home for your child.


When children are walking steadily and ready emotionally to separate, they enter our Toddler Community for 4 mornings. (Mon- Thurs, 8:3011:30). This program acts as a bridge between home and the outside world in a nurturing homelike space.

A PRIMARY CLASSROOM 3 years-Kindergarten

Around the age of three, children are ready to move into the more complex, structured world with a scientically designed curriculum that will take them three years or more to complete.

3 & 4-year-olds may stay half-days (8:30-11:30) or full days.

Kindergarten-aged children stay for the full school day 8:30-3:00. Before and after care are available, 7:30- 8:30 and 3:00-5:30.

Our classical Montessori hands-on materials lay a concrete foundation for future learning.

Younger children learn from older ones, and the older children learn how to help the younger ones, thus laying the foundation for social and emotional development.

Our Faculty is trained and certied by the Association Montessori Internationale.


For more information and to schedule a tour, e-mail us at: prairieowermontessorischool@comcast.net

Register by April 21 as spaces are limited.

3130 TURPIN RD, DECATUR, IL 62521 217.423.5200

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Learn to play is our motto. Whether your children want to take up a musical instrument, dance on stage, master a sport, or discover the world around them, after-school programs offer them the chance to grow

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KIDS c o n t i n u e d o n n e x t p a g e

Explore the World of Music

Early experiences in music can have a dramatic impact on a child's potential. For over 100 years, Millikin University's School of Music has provided quality music lessons for students of all ages from Decatur and surrounding communities.

Today, that tradition continues with the programs and private lessions offered by the Millikin Community Arts Academy.

Summer Camp

Our public education trend is right in line with a national movement towards experiential and exploratory learning. Summer School at District 61 took a new approach in 2011 – planners invited families to enroll their kids in a camp-like setting utilizing Decatur Park District facilities. Fewer desks for chalkboard lessons translated to more interactive and engaged kids. Traditional on-site schools were used primarily for accessing technology, such as Promethean Boards and computer labs.

“Our intent was to create an atmosphere where the community becomes the classroom,” says Director of Special Programs Bobbi Williams. “We continue to encourage students to become good digital citizens in an increasingly technology-based culture.”

Excursions to different “continents” at Park District sites prompted kids to recognize academic principles applied to the world around them.

The response to this paradigm shift? More than 1,000 applications for roughly 800 spots. Students in need of catch-up time worked alongside higher-achieving peers in a collaborative format. Earlysummer evenings were marked by frequent sightings of the orange camp tee-shirts. To register, call Decatur Public Schools at 217-4243000.

In Step

Hundreds of local dancers take the stage during the year in Decatur to adoring audiences – and showcase the results of their hard work during classes offered across the community

Studio B has been home to dozens of young dancers since 1988. Offering a variety of days & times in their class schedules, each class size is monitored closely. Most classes are benefited by both a teacher and an assistant to better give your child the attention they deserve.

With over 27 years of experience teaching dance, The Dance Centre specializes in a unique dance program for pre-school age students and offers a variety of classes for ages two through adult.

Debbie's Dance Studio has 34 years of experience teaching young dancers and offers classes beginning with the Wiggles and Giggles class for ages 18 months to four years to specialized classes for boys and girls through adult.

After School Sports Golf

Nearly on par with the professionals are their protégés —more than 350 junior golfers, ages four to 21, who compete in Decatur's Junior Open, the Midwest's top-ranked junior tournament. Beginning at an early age, young golfers in Decatur learn the skills of the game during junior golf programs offered at all our golf facilities.


Youth soccer has found a home in Decatur as well, hosting indoor soccer leagues at the Decatur Indoor Sports Center (DISC) and games for all ages on manicured fields scattered throughout the city. The Midstate Soccer Club, a developmental program administered by the Decatur Park District, provides league and tournament play for youth ages 5-18 at the Decatur Soccer Complex on the city's north side.

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flathead catfish - crappie freshwater drum - white bass - largemouth bass To obtain permits and schedule tournaments, call the City of Decatur Lake Office 217-424-2837
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For more than a century, advanced healthcare has had a home — and a heart — in Decatur. Through the decades, the focus of local healthcare has shifted from treating diseases to prevention and wellness, and from hospital stays spanning weeks to hosts of procedures performed on an outpatient basis. Decatur's role and reputation as a regional healthcare hub has evolved as well, with its facilities, programs, services, and technologies building on the commitment and foresight of our community's medical pioneers.

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In the course of its 103-year history, Decatur Memorial Hospital (DMH) has grown from a humble facility serving a handful of patients to an extensive medical complex offering the latest in healthcare diagnosis and treatment techniques to the people of central Illinois.

A not-for-profit, private hospital, Decatur Memorial Hospital's mission — to improve the health of the people and communities we serve — is made possible thanks to the hospital's more than 2,300 caring, dedicated employees. With more than 300 physicians representing a large variety of medical and surgical professions, DMH's care extends throughout Macon County and into neighboring counties. In October 2019, DMH became an affiliate of Springfield-based Memorial Health System, enabling patients to benefit from the strength of a regional healthcare organization

DMH is a licensed and fully accredited 300-bed facility that offers a wide range of general and specialized diagnostic, surgical and treatment services. DMH encompasses 12 state-of-the-art Centers of Excellence which focus on proven, quality healthcare and include a Level II trauma center, orthopaedics, molecular medicine, cardiopulmonary and vascular care, gastroenterology, neurosciences and oncology

DMH is committed to making it easy for the community to access health and wellness services. Two DMH Express Care locations offer convenient care for illnesses that are urgent, but not life-threatening. Those locations also provide required school physicals year-round.

DMH Health and Wellness is a venture of Decatur Memorial Hospital designed to improve the health and fitness of the Decatur community and DMH employees. The facility utilizes an integrated approach involving nutrition and fitness coaching to help patients and members adopt healthy behaviors and make lasting lifestyle changes. DMH Health and Wellness offers a wide range of services, from gym memberships and personal training to sports enhancement, weight management, nutrition and diabetes education

Situated on a 21-acre campus near Lake Decatur, HSHS St. Mary's Hospital is a 370-bed, fully accredited, state-of-the-art health care center, and serves as Macon County's only comprehensive mental health services provider. Additional patient services include behavioral health; cardiovascular; radiology; laboratory; Lifeline; maternal/childcare; pain medicine; pastoral; rehabilitative; sleep medicine; and surgery. Throughout decades of change, however, St. Mary's remains grounded by the mission of its founding Hospital Sisters: To serve the needs of the sick and poor with dignity, respect, compassion, and joy, and to participate in the healthcare ministry of the Catholic church.

Radiating from Decatur's hospitals is a system focused on community health — from wellness centers designed to maintain fitness and prevent disease, to facilities targeted to active seniors or those needing rehabilitative care. The result? Decatur residents are never more than a few miles from the services — or the facility — they need.

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We lend a hand to each other in times of need — sharing a warm hearth during snowstorms and hanging out with youngsters needing help with homework.

Look at a map of the Decatur area and you'll see a patchwork quilt of communities. About 75 individual neighborhoods make up our town — a number capable of expanding exponentially as we embrace new growth. Each pocket has a history, a personality, and a story to tell. Together, they weave the fabric that is Decatur.

Within our city limits are cottages, condominiums, and colossal lakeside mansions. We host authentic Frank Lloyd Wright gems, quaint Victorian-era cottages, and brand-new Colonials. Our residents live in country settings and climb to city lofts. Neighbors may be a mile away or close enough to chat over the backyard fence. We're developing housing to meet the interests and needs of aging baby boomers, and building our first new downtown urban neighborhood in 50 years.

Almost two-thirds of our residents live in single-family dwellings, but we love to gather. You'll find us closing off streets for block parties and choosing up sides to shoot hoops. We celebrate by walking in our own parades. We lend a hand to each other in times of need — sharing a warm hearth during snowstorms and hanging out with youngsters needing help with homework. Our hammers and hearts come together to build for Habitat for Humanity. Togetherness has a history here.

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Although the downtown business map has changed a bit over the years, local life still revolves around the original city boundaries. Brick streets that hearken to yesteryear tie the city's historic west side to the downtown district. Improvements along this West Main Street corridor also include a new multipurpose, paved hiking and biking trail that passes through the Millikin University campus and connects to our popular bike trail through Fairview Park and beyond. Our revitalization drive connects to quality of life, too. Residents want to live affordably and still be within minutes of work, school, shopping, and restaurants. To this end, Decatur is determined to create a mixed-use, 24-hour living environment in its downtown Reinvestment is enticing homeowners to our city's core, with increasing numbers of young professionals and empty nesters moving on up to the upper floors of downtown buildings converted to “soft lofts.” With open floor plans and exposed brick and duct work, these renovated spaces exude a quintessential urban feeling.


Exploring our many neighborhoods is easy. Most of Decatur's historic gems reside just west of downtown — roughly bounded by Hayward, Eldorado, Church, and Lincoln Park Drive. Street lights have replaced the hitching posts in the historic district, but many of these stately dwellings stand today restored to their former glory

You'll find homes designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and other architectural marvels located next door to renovated Victorian mansions built by Decatur's founding families including Millikin, Oglesby, and Powers.

Just west of Millikin University in the West End neighborhood, the cozy 1920's and 1930's-era homes are so popular they often trade by word of mouth alone. Street strolling is a daily constitutional in this neighborhood, a fact made even more popular by the area's network of paved trails through nearby parks. On July 4, Cobb Avenue residents stage their very own parade — an event that enjoys a 50-year plus neighborhood history


The south and east sides of Decatur enjoy close proximity to the shores of Lake Decatur. Stately homes offering panoramic lake views in Southmoreland, Bayshore, Lake Pointe and The Reserve mingle with lakefront cottage and bungalow neighborhoods in Homewood Fishing Club and Lake Grove Club, all designed for life on the water Follow Country Club Road north to Airport Road where you'll find new homes in Country Club Estates mingling with sprawling lakefront property on both sides.


Southeast to Mt. Zion

The southern boundaries of Decatur are home to established neighborhoods in South Shores where you'll find an eclectic mix of grand homes ranging from those nestled among stately trees on Allen Bend to the Wildwood subdivision that borders the famed Red Tail Run Golf Club designed by legendary golfer Raymond Floyd.

Heading southeast on Lost Bridge Road you'll arrive at the Home of the Braves - prep sports is a popular pastime in Mt. Zion. You'll discover the focus is on family with sprawling new subdivisions and country homes in this bedroom community just minutes from Decatur

The Estates at Ashland, Silver Leaf, Parkside East and Carrington offer new construction convenient to schools and village amenities. Buck Head lies to the east offering new building lots with sweeping views of the rolling prairie. In the planning stages is Summerfield, a new development of affordable homes in the Long Creek area.

These neighborhoods border Fletcher Park, a recent village recreation area development, offering a covered amphitheater, park pavilion, and wide open spaces perfect for family fun and entertainment. And, Spitler Woods State Park, a 202-acre state natural area with hiking trails, picnic areas and camping.

North to Forsyth

Built in the 60's and 70's, the northern boundaries of Decatur include Shadow Lane and Cresthaven subdivisions boasting large treed lots and walkable neighborhoods with easy access to shopping and entertainment. Added in the 90's, new subdivisions were built with sweeping views of Hickory Point Golf Course, an award winning public course.

The Village of Forsyth offers small town living in the country Stevens Creek and other new subdivisions have grown out of the surrounding prairie with new homes in Grayhawk and Shadow Ridge Estates. The Forsyth Village Park hosts family picnics, reunions, annual festivals and league sports, and a trail system offers hiking and biking opportunities that connects to Decatur's bike trail system.

Room To Grow

While lofty apartments and new subdivisions attract young professionals and families, assisted living centers are being constructed in every corner of the city. Our older residents now have the advantages of assistance with everyday needs while enjoying the company of friends and family in a home-like setting. Other developments throughout our community are planned subdivisions targeted to “active seniors.”

There's a home for everyone in Decatur, and the spirit of “togetherness” that initially characterized our neighborhoods still defines these areas today. New housing developments, along with renovations of historic homes, are our welcome mats to a city known for hospitality

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While many see the nearly 400 vacant lots in the Decatur-Macon County area as eyesores, others recognize their potential to be practical and beautiful gardens, filled with neat plots of flowers and fresh vegetables.

Although such gardens are a worthy ambition, transforming a vacant lot into a productive garden requires a great deal of hard work and some knowledge of the process, including purchasing or leasing the lot, testing and revitalizing the soil and, finally, planting and maintaining the garden

The City of Decatur encourages those interested in purchasing or leasing a vacant lot to contact them for assistance. “If you have a group that can develop and farm an urban garden, we are happy to work with you if you have an entity who can extend the umbrella for cash handling, liability, insurance and so forth,” says Scot Wrighton, Decatur city manager. “We are certainly willing to help people who have that vision.”

by meredith jackson photography by mercy gardens
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Dr. Ken Laundra, associate professor of sociology and criminal justice at Millikin University, understood few of the logistics required before approaching the city about using vacant lots for a student project that would become Friends of Torrence Park. After Wrighton spoke to Laundra's environmental sociology class in 2019, the students assessed their options and leased five lots (for a whopping one dollar per lot) in the Torrence Park neighborhood. The project now encompasses a garden, a nature trail and more.

“We learned along the way that the city had put a sidewalk along the south edge of Torrence Park to originally be a nature trail back in the forties, and we uncovered that,” Laundra says. “Although it looks like we are mainly renovating, in some ways, we are restoring what once was in the neighborhood.”

Perhaps the project's greatest success thus far has been the garden, dubbed “Ladybug Mountain” by local children, a fitting name for a garden hosting many of the beneficial spotted insects — although the land is flat. When Laundra and his students first began clearing the lot, they noticed a small plot of green beans already thriving. Neighbor Wendy Taylor was using the piece of land to teach local kids about the easy-to-grow vegetable.

“Some of those kids said they had never eaten a green bean before,” Laundra says. “Wendy had grown up on a farm, and she decided to show the kids how to grow their food. Wendy is still sort of the garden manager. We follow her lead, and it has worked out great.”

Laundra says that his goal for the approximately 50 students involved with the project is to learn by doing, what Millikin refers to as “performance learning.” His students have not only grown the project with sweat equity, but they have also made it a point to befriend and understand the residents of Torrence Park with the hope of transferring the project into their hands one day.

One of the most beloved and successful urban gardens in Decatur is Mercy Gardens, part of The Good Samaritan Inn. Three Mercy Gardens locations on a total of 1.5 acres — in the Old King's Orchard neighborhood, at Richland Community College and at St. Mary's Hospital — provide produce for the meals offered at The Good Samaritan Inn on Union Street.

Although Mercy Gardens has been used for workforce development in the past, the garden's current purpose is simply to introduce people to the benefits of pesticide-free, fresh, available produce, says Nicky Besser, executive director of The Good Samaritan Inn

“There can be a lot of barriers to developing urban gardens . . . and for people to have fresh, local produce. We have really found that the main reason people do or don't eat something is accessibility,” Besser says. “Our goal is to introduce people to fresh, local produce, especially young people, so that they will realize they can have access to it, and they'll want it for themselves.”

Besser's team at Mercy Gardens includes two full-time employees, program director Ben Frazier and gardener Kent Jones, who do the majority of the gardening tasks. Frazier, who sells produce from his own market garden during his “off” time, knows well the trials and rewards of gardening.

Besser and Frazier's goal is to most efficiently utilize their garden space, finances and volunteers to serve as many meals as possible for those in need, with a goal this year of 37,800 servings (three servings per day for 100 people for 18 weeks of the growing season). They grow vegetables that are universally enjoyed, such as tomatoes and summer squash, as well as fruit, including berries, melons, apples and peaches, some of which may be expensive in grocery stores.

“Every dollar we spend comes from people investing in our missions and in our people, and we want to be smart about how we spend those dollars,” Besser says. “We are so, so grateful for the support from our community, including Richland, St. Mary's, ADM and others.”

Besser says they are using donated funds and land to construct a 96-foot-long greenhouse that will have automated watering and temperature controls — and they hope to add another greenhouse soon The greenhouses will extend the growing season, and with their automated features, they won't be difficult to operate.

“It's a long-term dream to one day use hydrostacking, hydroponics, flash-freezing and other processes that will allow us to expand our impact and provide our services for as long as we can each year,” Besser says.

For more information on Friends of Torrence Park, visit facebook.com/friendsoftorrencepark. To learn more about Mercy Gardens at The Good Samaritan Inn or to volunteer, visit goodsamaritaninn.org and facebook.com/goodsaminndecatur

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Meredith Jackson loves gardening, and she has high hopes for the urban gardening programs in Decatur
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The Decatur area is known for its eclectic neighborhoods and entrepreneurial spirit, and that translates into a unique shopping experience, too. Sure, we have national chain stores, but we also have boutiques and specialty shops scattered throughout the community where the owners greet you at the door to help you find exactly what you’re looking for.

Merchants offer something for every taste – from gourmet novelties to regional wines – and for every style –from traditional to retro. You’ll find apparel and accessories, home décor and toys, some even handmade by local artisans.

So, whether you prefer quaint door-to-door shopping downtown, or the Forsyth mall scene, it’s all in the right spot for shopping. c o n t i n u e d o n p a g e 6 7

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Hickory Point Mall

Home to more than 70 retailers, one mall packs it all. Located at the crossroads of I-72 and Rt. 51 north of Decatur in Forsyth you'll find what you're shopping for at Hickory Point Mall. Established in 1974, the mall serves as a regional retail hub, anchored by Von Maur, Kohl's, along with an array of specialty shops and eateries. Bordering the mall complex, you'll find Coziahr Harley Davidson and several restaurants that offer indoor or patio seating.

Brettwood Village

Located on Route 51 North and Pershing Road, Brettwood Village is packed with shopping choices and free convenient parking. Anchored by Kroger, you'll also find party supplies, jewelry and plenty of services.

Mound Center

When residents listed Target, Olive Garden and Starbucks on their community “wish lists”, the City of Decatur answered in the form of Mound Center, a retail/restaurant hub on the city's north side at the intersection of Route 51 and Mound Road.

Downtown Decatur

Take a ride on the free trolley in downtown Decatur, with fourteen convenient stops that take you to boutique and specialty shops around every corner. Historic Merchant Street is home to locally-

owned shops and restaurants, and the stores on Main, Prairie and Water Streets offer everything from apparel and home décor to gourmet novelties and toys.

West Main Village borders the historic district downtown and offers a collection of specialty shops and services.


Just to the west of downtown Decatur, the Oakwood Business District, aka “Campustown,” is an easy walk from the Millikin University campus. With an eclectic tone all its own, the mix of specialty shops at the intersection of West Main, Wood Street and Oakland Avenue is made for multi-tasking.


Whether you view tracking down antiques, collectibles and vintage items as a pleasurable pastime or a compulsive obsession, the hunting grounds are fertile in this area. There are eight antique malls and vintage shops located in or near Decatur offering thousands of square feet to explore.

If your quest is for a Decatur original – such as a Hi-Flier kite form or Mueller Company china – the search often begins at the Wabash Depot Antique Centre, longtime headquarters for the Wabash Railroad and located on the edge of downtown. Recently restored to its early 1900's grandeur and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the same 10,000 square foot Depot that once welcomed Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower now greets antique enthusiasts from around the world.

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