Nachusa Hotel

Lee County IL

(From Dixon Telegraph December 10, 1853 - The Na-Chu-Sa House, named thus for the designation given by the Indians,years ago, to Mr. John Dixon, the founder of our town, is now open. It is very handsomely finished and neatly furnished, and said to be extremely well-kept. The traveling public who have occasion to pass through our town, will, we are sure, be gratified at this announcement.")

Dixon Evening Telegraph - Reporting the news that the Nachusa House had changed management, The Telegraph said, on May 16, 1857, that "John Stock has become "mine host". Mr. Stock will make a good landlord and we wish him success. The Hotel, on that date, had been renovated, repaird and improved. An observatory and verandas were added, and it was said, "The Nachusa House will be one of THE hotels west of Chicago, as it should be. Go on, MR. Stock, with the good work and consider us with you - at dinner time.

The Telegraph announced on June 13, 1914, that the Nachusa House had been completely remodeled and that a wing being completed would add 30 more rooms to the hostelry. The name of the hotel was changed to the Nachusa Tavern by M.E. Rice, owner.

Nachusa House 1837

To commerate the forming of the Dixon Hotel Company by an act of the General Assembly of Illinois.
1837 - Foundation Begun
1853 - Hotel built and opened for business
1867 - Building enlarged by rough stone Addition Top Story and Mansard Roof
1915 - Addition of the South Wing


Erected By The Dixon Chapter of the
Daughters of the American Revolution 1939

  Photo contributed by Margaret Gagliardi

Freeport Journal Standard 16 Jan 1947
"Topsy "star boarder and mascot of the Hotel Nachusa is dead. The little black short haired dog died Monday afternoon about an hour after an attack of brain fever caused her to have a fit. No one ever knew Topsy's age or exactly what species of canine she was, but from Nov. 13, 1945 when Grover McDonald hotel manager brought her in out of the cold until Monday, her wagging tail made her a friend to all who entered the hotel.

On the summit of a hill leading up from the banks of the Rock River and across from the Lee county court house stands one of Dixon's most notable landmarks - the Nachusa hotel. Here, for more than a Century, travelers have found hospitality and comfort and on its registers are the names of some of the world's most famous people. The articles of incorporation granted by Illinois to a company for the purpose of building a hotel are dated 1837. The capital authorized was for $20,000, divided into shares of $50 each. The company included John Dixon, Smith Gilbraith, James P.Dixon, L.G. Huff, John Brown, Samuel Johnson, James Evans, John Atchison, Charles S. Boyd and William C. Bostwick. The foundation was begun in the same year, but the company ran out of money. The building which is now the front section of the hotel was erected in 1838. Further improvements ( as indicated from the Telegraph's announcement printed above) were made in 1853 and after the close of the Civil Ware in 1865. Another story and the mansard roof were added in 1880 and a new addition to the rear was constructed in 1914 and other improvements werem ade in 1936.

The Nachusa Tavern stood on the main trail between Galena and Peoria and was the most pretentious hostelry west of Chicago in the early days. The records show that many famous people have stopped there and they include: Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, General Leonard Wood, Eugene V. Debs, Stephen A. Douglas, John A. Logan, Cassius M. Clay, Horace Greeley, Will Carlton, Adelina Patti, Emma Abbott: Galli Curci, Helen Keller, Elbert Hubbard, Schuyler Colfax, Billy Sunday, James Doolittle, Judge Kensaw Landis, Marquis of Queensbury, Mme. Schumann-Heink, Jefferson Davis, Henry Ward Beecher, George Ade, Carter Harrison, William J. Bryan, J. Edgar Hoover, Oliver Wendell Holmes, William "Boss" Tweed and many others. Various historic documents of local interest are among the hotel's treasured relics and many are on display in the lobby. In the historical novel, "The Crisis" by Winston Churchill, the Nachusa Tavern is referred to when the leading character seeks a conference with Lincoln at the famous old hotel.

The Dixon Evening Telegraph 01 May 1951

"Nachusa House" - What was once the oldest, most prestigious hotels in the county has now been turned into an apartment complex for seniors citizens, while part of it is used for a ballroom for community activities. The halls of the old Nachusa Hotel must still ring with the ghosts of Abraham Lincoln, Theordore Roosevelt, Stephen A. Douglas, George B. McClellan, Jefferson Davis, William Howard Taft, Oliver Wendell Holmes and Ulysses S. Grant (to name just a few), whose names have been said to appear on the old guest list. Old history of the county relates that around 1837 John Dixon and a group of citizens applied for a grant to build a hotel. Money was raised, plans were made but eveything was delayed for several years. Finally in 1853 the Hotel was built and named "Nachusa" and Indian word which means "White Haired Man" or something similar to that. Named in honor of John Dixon, the found of Dixon IL who had white hair. The Nachusa House is located at 215 S. Galena Avenue, overlooking the Rock River and a good part of the town of Dixon. Galena Avenue is the original stage route of the old stage lines and "every" stage stopped at the Nachusa House. In the 1980's the old Hotel was added to the National Register. What will its fate be next?

Nachusa Hotel Building in 2006 - Photo contributed by Margaret Gagliardi
Apartments for Seniors