660 E. Terra Cotta Ave, Crystal Lake

Phone: 815.477.5873


Thursday 11 am-5 pm

Friday 11 am-5 pm

Saturday 10 am-4 pm

View special events at colonel Palmer house

View current season programs

Temporary exhibit-The Ice Industry in Crystal Lake

The crystal clear water from our very own lake made some if the finest ice in northern Illinois. During the winters, ice was cut from the lake, stored in the large ice houses, and shipped by train all over Chicago. This temporary exhibit details the intriguing ice harvesting process, a timeline of the industry in Crystal Lake and displays real tools used for ice harvesting. Stop by the Colonel Palmer House to check out this exhibit until the end of November.

St. Lucia Holiday Tea

Ages 4 & Up
The St. Lucia celebration represents one of the foremost cultural traditions in Sweden. Lucia is an ancient mythical figure who is a bearer of light in the dark Swedish winters. The historic Colonel Palmer House with Victorian parlors is the perfect setting to celebrate this festive occasion. Tables of four can accommodate you and three of your guests. Each participant must be registered separately.

Sat, Dec 7, Noon-1:30 pm or 2:30-4 pm

Sun, Dec 8, Noon-1:30 pm

$25 per person

Please note: registration deadline is Tuesday, November 26 at Noon


  • General Information

    Gustavus A. Palmer and his wife Henrietta arrived in McHenry County from Nunda, New York by covered wagon circa 1841. As early pioneers to the area they purchased land from the Federal Government to start their homestead. The Colonel, as he was called by his neighbors, would eventually acquire over 300 acres of property. As a successful farmer he hired Andrew Jackson Simons, a local architect, to build this Greek Revival and Federalist style brick home in 1858. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the home and grounds provide the perfect setting for historic presentations.

    The building is now open to the public for tours, special events, and research of local history. The home contains the office of the Crystal Lake Historical Society who maintains records of Crystal Lake history and collections of local artifacts.

    A Unique Partnership

    The Colonel Palmer House has a unique partnership with the Crystal Lake Park District, The Crystal Lake Historical Society and the City of Crystal Lake. These organizations work together to bring our area's history to the community. This partnership won the 2009 Small Institution of the Year Award from the Illinois Association of Museums. Our thanks to the many talented historic interpreters, re-enactors, hobbyists and staff who volunteer their time and knowledge to make our programs successful.

    Contact Info

    Colonel Palmer House Manager

  • activities

    The Colonel Palmer House is known for its many programs that highlight local history. Sweetheart Tea, Mother-Daughter Tea, Victorian Holiday Tea and Lunch & Learns in addition to seasonal events co-produced with the Crystal Lake Historical Society like Dearly Departed have become favorites for people of all ages. Colonel Palmer House staff also host 1 day seminars throughout the year such as 'Research Your Crystal Lake Home', 'Canning Basics' and various historical craft programs.

    Browse Col palmer house programs


    The Crystal Lake Park District provides comprehensive school and Boy Scout/Girl Scout programs at the Colonel Palmer House.


    Contact us to discuss how we can enhance your local history lessons with an inc classroom presentation or field trip.


    • What did the settler's bring with them when they settled in Crystal Lake? Discover how they lived and what they wore, how does it differ from today? This hands-on trunk is filled with replica artifacts and clothing that will tell the story of the people who came to Crystal Lake in the 1800's.


    • This multi-media presentation features change over time in Crystal Lake from a farming community to suburbia. Discover what remains and what has changed while learning about our local history. Students will investigate artifacts from the past and learn about their uses in daily life.


    • $6 per participant
    • Achievement & Electives for Tiger, Bear, Wolf and Webelo
    • 1-1.5 hour of instruction
    • All instructors have completed Youth Protection Training


    • Merit Badge Programs
    • Fee based on Merit Badge
    • Programs available any time including evenings and weekends
    • Length of programs vary
    • All instructors have completed Youth Protection Training and are registered Merit Badge Counselors


    • Call to reserve your troop's ideal date
    • All day Journey Activities
    • 1-2 Badge Programs
    • LIA Opportunities
    • Fees based on program/activity


    Volunteer opportunities at the Colonel Palmer House include:

    • Midsommar Fest (June)
    • Teas (Feb, April, October)
    • Crystal Lake Historical Society (Year Round)

    Junior/Senior high school students welcome, National Honor Society members, college students and community service hours available.



    Looking for something new for one of your club's monthly meetings? Join us at the historic Colonel Palmer House and let us do the work! Costumed staff will make all the arrangements including a program on the Palmer family history and tour of the home.

    Date: Saturdays or Sundays

    Maximum Capacity: 24

    Fee: $25 per person

    Perfect for:

    • Historic Groups and Guilds
    • Bridal Showers Baby Showers
    • Birthday Parties


    For 1.5 hours, the historic Colonel Palmer House staff will host you and your guests as we celebrate your birthday Victorian-era style. Luncheon includes seasonal fruit, three finger sandwiches, and three delectable desserts (cake not provided) and of course, tea! Victorian dining etiquette will be presented and lively parlor games will be played. Party times available on Saturdays and Sundays. Maximum 25 guests.

    FAIRY BIRTHDAY: Be swept away into a fantasy world of fairies with our short fairy presentation and fairy-themed crafts. Available for children 4 & older.

    VICTORIAN BIRTHDAY: Victorian dining etiquette will be presented and parlor games from the 1800s-era will complete the party.

    Fee: $25 per person (resident or non-resident)

    To reserve your party, please contact the Colonel Palmer House Facility Manager at 815.477.5873 or palmerhouse@crystallakeparks.org.