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Dwight, Illinois

Buildings in downtown Dwight
Country United States
State Illinois
County Livingston
Elevation 631 ft (192 m)
Area 3.23 sq mi (8 km2)
 - land 3.22 sq mi (8 km2)
 - water 0.01 sq mi (0 km2)
Population 4,260 (2010)
Density 1,694.8 / sq mi (654 / km2)
Mayor Jared Anderson
Timezone CST (UTC−6)
 - summer (DST) CDT (UTC−5)
Postal code 60420
Area code 815
FIPS code 17-21358
GNIS ID 2398764
Location of Dwight within Illinois
Wikimedia Commons:
Website: .org.dwightillinoiswww

Dwight is a village located mainly in Livingston County, Illinois, with a small portion in Grundy County. The population was 4,260 at the 2010 census. Dwight contains an original stretch of the famous U.S. Route 66, and uses a railroad station designed in 1891 by Henry Ives Cobb. It is about 80 miles (129 km) southwest of Chicago. I-55 bypasses the village to the north and west.


  • Geography 1
  • History 2
    • Founding Dwight 2.1
    • Early Dwight 2.2
    • Original design of Dwight 2.3
    • The Prince Comes to Town 2.4
    • Growth of Dwight 2.5
    • June 2010 tornado 2.6
  • Monuments 3
  • Demographics 4
  • Government and infrastructure 5
  • Other sites 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


Dwight is located at (41.092975, -88.427273).[1]

According to the 2010 census, Dwight has a total area of 3.23 square miles (8.37 km2), of which 3.22 square miles (8.34 km2) (or 99.69%) is land and 0.01 square miles (0.03 km2) (or 0.31%) is water.[2]

Dwight is mostly located in Livingston County, but a small portion extends northward into Grundy County to include the commercial area near the northern I-55 interstate exit.


Founding Dwight

Dwight was laid out on 30 January 1854 by Richard Price Morgan, Jr. (17 September 1828- 20 May 1910), James C. Spencer (29 July 1828 – after 1990), and John Lathrop (6 March 1909 – May 1870), each of these three men took a quarter of the land. All were working as engineers for the railroad. The final quarter jointly owned by two

  • Dwight, Illinois (Official Site)

External links

  1. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990".  
  2. ^ "G001 - Geographic Identifiers - 2010 Census Summary File 1".  
  3. ^ History of Livingston County, Illinois (Chicago: LeBaron, 1878) p.406.
  4. ^ History of Livingston, 1878, p.784.
  5. ^ History of the Descendants of John Dwight of Dedham, Massachusetts (New York: John F. Trow, 1874).
  6. ^ Frances Milton I. Morehouse, The Life of Jesse Fell (Urbana: University of Illinois, 1916).
  7. ^ Morgan v. Railroad Company, 96 U.S. 24L.Ed. 743 (October term), 1877 p.716.
  8. ^ History of Livingston, 1878, p. 287.
  9. ^ William R. Dustin, History of Dwight from 1853–1894 (Dwight: Dustin and Wassall, 1894) p.16.
  10. ^ Morgan v. Railroad, 1877, p 716.
  11. ^ History of Livingston, 1878, p.486.
  12. ^ a b Morgan v. Railroad, 1877, p.716.
  13. ^ Dustin, 1894, p.17.
  14. ^ Dustin, 1894, pp. 16-18.
  15. ^ History of Livingston, 1878, p. 489.
  16. ^ Standard Atlas of Livingston County Illinois (Chicago: Ogle, 1911) p.30.
  17. ^ Dustin, 1894, pp. 7-8.
  18. ^ Baron Renfrew is one of the titles of the Prince of Wales.
  19. ^ History of Livingston, 1878, P. 489.
  20. ^ History of Livingston 1878, P. 489.
  21. ^ Dustin, 1894, p.131
  22. ^ Joseph E. Persico, Franklin and Lucy: President Roosevelt Mrs. Rutherfurd and the Other Remarkable Women in His Life (New York: Random House: 2008) p. 24.
  23. ^ Blue Book of the State of Illinois 1921–1922 (Springfield: State of Illinois, 1921) p. 323.
  24. ^ The Dwight, Illinois Tornado of 2010
  25. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  26. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  27. ^ "American FactFinder".  
  28. ^ "Dwight village, Illinois." U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved on September 1, 2010.
  29. ^ "Dwight Correctional Center." Illinois Department of Corrections. Retrieved on September 1, 2001.
  30. ^ "DOC Report Online." Illinois Department of Corrections. Retrieved on September 1, 2010.


Sadie planned a trip to Dwight in the "Sadie's Trip To Dwight" episode of the radio serial Vic and Sade, originally aired on June 4, 1937. The series, set in a vaguely fictionalized Bloomington, Illinois, often used towns near Bloomington in its scripts.

Dwight (Amtrak station) is also located in Dwight.

Dwight is also home of the first Keeley Institute, the John R. Oughton House, the Ambler's Texaco Gas Station, Frank L. Smith Bank, and the Pioneer Gothic Church.

Other sites

The Illinois Department of Corrections Dwight Correctional Center is within Nevada Township in an unincorporated area in Livingston County, near Dwight.[28][29] Dwight Correctional Center housed the State of Illinois female death row.[30]

Government and infrastructure

The median income for a household in the village was $40,071, and the median income for a family was $44,813. Males had a median income of $37,429 versus $27,813 for females. The per capita income for the village was $20,928. About 5.0% of families and 10.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 9.8% of those under age 18 and 10.2% of those age 65 or over.

In the village the age distribution of the population shows 26.4% under the age of 18, 8.1% from 18 to 24, 29.5% from 25 to 44, 20.9% from 45 to 64, and 15.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 88.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.3 males.

There were 1,667 households out of which 33.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.8% were married couples living together, 10.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.2% were non-families. 29.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.48 and the average family size was 3.10.

As of the census[27] of 2000, there were 4,363 people, 1,667 households, and 1,096 families residing in the village. The population density was 1,694.8 people per square mile (655.5/km²). There were 1,803 housing units at an average density of 700.4 per square mile (270.9/km²). The racial makeup of the village was 96.72% White, 0.92% African American, 0.05% Native American, 0.25% Asian, 1.17% from other races, and 0.89% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.80% of the population.


Dwight is home to one of only three banks designed by the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright, the First National Bank of Dwight, as well as an historic U.S. Route 66 Texaco gas station, Ambler's Texaco Gas Station, and a 1891 railway station. Two of the buildings, the gas station and the train station, are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. See also John R. Oughton House. The 1857 Dwight Pioneer Gothic Church is a rare example of wooden Carpenter Gothic church building.

Frank Lloyd Wright's Frank L. Smith Bank in Dwight


On June 5, 2010, an EF-3 tornado ripped through Streator and later Dwight. As described by one AP reporter who covered the disaster, the tornado "literally rearranged these towns of Dwight and Streator, with the worst damage in mobile home parks and downtown Streator. The residents of Dwight are thankful for the fact that the tornado largely spared their town." The rebulilding (and cleanup) effort continues as of July 22, 2010.[24]

June 2010 tornado

In 1869 the prospects of Dwight were improved when a second railroad was constructed linking Dwight with Streator, Illinois.[19] In the same year the Chicago and Alton Railroad was double tracked from Odell to Gardner.[20] The first brick house in Dwight was built in 1872. H By 1891 it became clear that the growing town needed a new railroad station and the railroad hired Henry Ives Cobb to design the building. The result was a splendid Richardson Romanesque building, which in 1982, was added to the National Register of Historic Places as the Dwight Railroad Station. Another new downtown building now on the National Register was Frank L. Smith Bank opened in 1906, which was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. In 1879 Dwight physician, Dr. Leslie Keeley, working with Richard Oughton, announced that he had found a cure for alcoholism based on gold chloride.[21] The Keeley Institute soon became world famous treating hundreds of thousands of patients including Elliott Roosevelt, the brother of President Theodore Roosevelt.[22] The John R. Oughton House, on the south side of Dwight, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. In 1930 the state of Illinois established the Oakdale Reformatory for Women in Dwight, which has since become the Dwight Correctional Center. In 1921 paving was finished on the Chicago to Springfield road,[23] which in 1926 was designated as Route 66. In 1964 the first phase of Interstate 55 was completed and Dwight became an increasingly a highway oriented town.

Growth of Dwight

Dwight Library, 2007

The best remembered event in the early history of Dwight was the time England's Prince Albert, the Prince of Wales, son of Queen Victoria and heir to the British throne came to stay for a few days in the town. (At that time, the town was known as Dwight's Station.) The prince was supposedly traveling incognito as Lord Renfrew, using one of his lesser titles, but this fooled no one. The visit was important enough that local people recorded the exact time the prince arrived: twenty-seven minutes after six on the afternoon on Saturday 22 September 1860. He was to stay with Charles C. Spencer, one of Dwight's founders, at Spencer's farm south of town. Local couches and chairs were deemed insufficient for His Royal Highness, so Spencer's furniture was stored, and the prince's own furniture, which had been shipped ahead, was placed in the house. Soon after the Crown Prince arrived the shooting began; the first bird shot by the royal visitor was a little screech owl, which can not have provided much in the way or either sport or food. In the following days the hunting improved. The royal party eventually killed over 200 prairie chickens and quail. Prince Albert attended Sunday services at the local Presbyterian Church. On Wednesday, 26 September, he departed but not before planting an elm on Spencer's farm. Prince Albert went on to become King Edward VII and the people of Dwight have never tired of talking about the visit.[17] In 1878 the grounds of the house where the prince stayed were improved by the famed American landscape architect Ossian Cole Simonds and in the present century were given to the town and have become Renfrew Park.[18]

The Prince Comes to Town

Like most new towns founded in Illinois in the 1850s, Dwight was designed without a town square. It was centered instead on a depot ground. This was a widened area of railroad property, about 1,000 feet long and 200 feet wide, where the tracks passed through the town. Such depot grounds were common in towns of the 1850s and may still be found at [12] Dwight's Original Town was quite large, consisting of twenty-four blocks each of which contained twenty-eight lots. Unlike Odell, where the entire Original Town was aligned with the railroad, only the small central part of the Original Town of Dwight paralled the tracks, with West street running diagonally on the northwest side of the railroad and East street on the south side. In the remainder Original Town, streets ran true north-south or east-west. This created two odd triangles of land where these streets met the diagonal streets at the center of town. The southeastern triangle became the site of Dwight’s waterworks. The early depot was on the northwest side of the tracks.[16]

Original design of Dwight

Dwight and Watertower, 2006

Unfortunately for the partners, their plan did not go quite as expected. When the surveyors, working for the railroad’s chief engineer, Oliver H. Lee, reached the proposed location of the town in 1853 the speculators found that the tracks would pass slightly east of the planned central point and would go through lands in Morgan’s part of the land. This would have made Morgan's lots more valuable than the others. The men reconsidered their plan. In the revised version, everyone would convey their lots to Morgan, who would then sell the lots, and split the total profits. This was done. In 1855 the partnership was dissolved and all unsold lots were divided among the five men.[10] To announce to the public that a town would be located here, a tin pan was placed on top of a telegraph pole.[11] Railroad workers flooded into the townsite. Morgan became afraid that they would cover valuable lots with “Irish shanties” and make the lots unsellable. Therefore he had John Campbell erect a boarding house.[12] This was the first building in Dwight. The first house in town was built by Augustus West in June 1854.[13] The first passenger train reached Dwight on 4 July 1854 and regular traffic on the railroad began in August of that year. The first store was a two story building put up by David McWilliams in 1855 and painted white to attract customers. The first item sold was a pattern for a “lawn dress” that one of the workmen purchased for the wife of the station master.[14] In 1857 John Spencer began buying grain and erected a grain warehouse. A grain elevator soon followed and a large stone mill was built in 1859.[15]

Early Dwight

[9]. Attempts in 1858 to rename it Jersey, Beckman, or Dogtown failed.Chicago and Alton Railroad soon became the Chicago and Mississippi The [8] The town was named for Henry Dwight, who had funded most of the building of this part of the railroad.[7]

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