The city of Tampico, Illinois is a small Midwest town just like many others. The residents get up every day and go to work, school and live their lives just like most Americans. Tampico is not a quick stop off the interstate and when people visit, it’s on purpose. You either come to visit the families that call Tampico home or you come to learn about the man that many Americans argue was one of our greatest modern day Presidents. Ronald Reagan was born in the city of Tampico in an apartment above a bakery and people in the town of Tampico wear this claim to fame with deep pride!
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Ronald Reagan Birthplace Museum
While on our recent Midwest Road Trip where we visited 7 states in 7 days, my husband remembered that Ronald Reagan was originally from the state of Illinois. After a quick internet search, we realized we were only about an hour away from Tampico. One phone call later and we had a tour scheduled for early Friday morning for the Reagan Birthplace Museum.
I recommend you call before you go to make reservations for your tour. There is no admission charge but donations are welcome and appreciated!
When we arrived in Tampico, we found the small city park where he would play as a child. There is a statue in the park commemorating the boyhood play of President Reagan.
You start your tour in the Visitor Center on Main Street where there are hundreds of pictures, placards and memorabilia associated with the Reagan family.
Museum Curator and director Joan Johnson gave us background and stories about the family and President Reagan’s visits back to his birthplace home.
When Ronald Reagan was born in the apartment, the downstairs was a bakery, but when they moved back after he was a little older, the downstairs had been converted to a bank.
A few years ago, the museum was able to aquire many of the original furnishings and items from the bank that had been in storage for many years.
The apartment where President Reagan was born has been decorated and furnished to look as close to how it would have been when he lived there. He lived there for about 7 months after he was born, then moved to another house in the city. But a few years later, he moved back into the same apartment for several years.
We learned many stories about President Reagan’s early life but my favorite one is the story of the window connecting the apartments. When the Reagan’s lived in the apartment, they could easily open the window between the apartments and the kids could crawl from one residence to the other. This made for easy babysitters and fun for the kids. It is said that President Reagan would crawl through the window whenever he wanted to go next doors and play with his neighborhood friends. So of course, we couldn’t pass up the chance to crawl through the same window as President Reagan.
Things to Know
- There is no admission charge but donations are welcome and appreciated.
- There are posted tour hours when the museum is open, but it is best to call ahead and make reservations since the museum is operated by a small staff of local volunteers.
- There are some steep stairs to climb to the upstairs apartment where President Reagan was born.
- Take your time to enjoy and appreciate the stories told by the museum staff.
Find Ronald Reagan Birthplace
Looking for more presidential places of interest? Check out the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library & Museum in West Branch, Iowa!