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660 E. Terra Cotta Ave, Crystal Lake

Phone: (815) 477-5873


Summer and fall 2018

Thursday 11 am-5 pm

Friday 11 am-5 pm

Saturday 10 am-4 pm

Please note: The Palmer House will be closed until November 1 for maintenance.

  • 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


    The Colonel Palmer House is known for its many programs that highlight local history. Summer Sundays, 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.

    Summer Sundays 2018


    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:

    • Summer Sunday Events (June, July and August)
    • 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

    Perfect for:

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


    Dress in your finest and have your guest be served a lovely luncheon tea for your birthday. For 1 1/2 hours, the 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.) Victorian dining etiquette will be presented and lively parlor games will be played.

    Date: Saturdays or Sundays

    Maximum Capacity: 24