660 E. Terra Cotta Ave, Crystal Lake

Phone: 815.477.5873


Th-Fri, 11 AM - 5 PM

Sat, 10 AM - 4 PM

colonel Palmer house info in digital guide

drop-In Fun at Colonel Palmer House

Stop by the Colonel Palmer House, during open hours and try these activities for FREE

Scavenger Hunts: Stop by and grab one of our Scavenger Hunt lists and explore away. Lists will be changed out each season. You never know what you might find!

Drop-In Crafts

Winter-Spring Programs at Colonel Palmer House

Advance registration required. For class description, date, fee and other information, see pages 23-25 in the digital summer guide. Click on the program code to link to online registration.
Early Illusionists
Victorian Lanterns
The Water Garden
Historic Writing & Text
Comic Quest Nation
Make & Take Tea Workshop
Citizen In The Nation Merit Badge
Lunch & Learn: This House Was Once A....
Breakfast for Dinner
Pioneering Merit Badge Workshop
Terra Cotta Pottery & Sculpture
Victorian Carvings
Classic Confection
Crystal Lake Historical Society Lunch & Learn
click on the program code in the digital guide to link to online registration

Special events at colonel palmer house



"Without thinking too much about it in specific terms, I was showing the America I knew and observed to others who might not have noticed." ~ Norman Rockwell

Celebrate the season remembering a legendary artist who encapsulates the nostalgia of American holiday traditions.

Two seatings each day!

$30 R/$39 NR per person

Ages 5 & Up

Register online

Ages 12+

Over a decadent Victorian Valentines Day dinner, embrace the ambience of music, fine arts, and the theoretical dynamics behind their influence.

$30 res/$39 non-res

Register Online

Ages 7+

Enjoy several different teas, sandwiches, and desserts as you spend a relaxing afternoon bonding with family and friends while learning about popular tea topics of 1858.

$30 res/$39 non-res

Register Online


Check out NEW Birthday Party packages at the Colonel Palmer House

Fee: $140 (1-15 participants), $6 each additional person (25 max)

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

  • 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 is operated and maintained by the Crystal Lake Park District and leased from the City of Crystal Lake. The Park District and Crystal Lake Historical Society partner 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 dedicated interpreters, re-enactors, hobbyists and staff who volunteer their time and knowledge to make our programs successful.

    Contact Info

    Sarah Taylor

  • activities

    The Colonel Palmer House is known for its many programs and special events that bring history to life. Check the Crystal Lake Park District seasonal program guide for the most up to date information. History Happens Here!


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


    • $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 are ongoing, both inside the house and on the grounds. Contact the Manager for upcoming events and details.



    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 staylor@crystallakeparks.org.